Royal Princess Review
Caribbean Inaugural October 27 to November 3, 2013
This is a continuation of the lengthy review written by Suzy. To read Part 1 first, click here.
PART 2 begins here..
THE CABINS –
I am giving this its own very massive section, because there are so many issues and quirks to note, you need to have it all in one place.
Service wise, be forewarned that all cabins except the full suites have three irritating common features. First, you are provided with pumps of shampoo/conditioner (combined) and body wash in the shower, but not little bottles. These big pumps have Princess’ signature Eucalyptus smelling stuff in them. If you’re a gal with long hair and want separate conditioner, you’d better bring your own.
They also provide tubes of shampoo/conditioner, body wash and lotion to use outside the shower, or while you’re in the tub if you have a mini-suite, but they are NOT the Princess Eucalyptus smelling good stuff and conditioner is still not separate.
I would be OK with pumps, but I’m not OK with shampoo and conditioner combined.
The second irritating thing of all cabins is they have those metal covers on the toilet paper that holds the paper down and causes you to rip off one square at a time. Highly irritating and pissing off everyone. Pretty much, we’re all opening up the spare roll and using it not attached to anything. I heard complaints also about the location of the roll being too far to the side and behind, but I could personally reach it fine. I just was pissed because it was ripping off too quickly.
Third irritating thing all cabins have is the built in hairdryer is in the top DRAWER of the vanity, attached, AND has one of those ridiculous buttons you have to hold down to make it blow. If this is going to bother you, take a spare with you.
ALL CABINS have a key system that makes you put your room key in the slot by the door to make the lights and TV work. It does not affect the heating and AC system though, so don’t worry your room will get hot as you leave. You just need to coordinate with your roommates to add their key into the slot as you depart if YOUR key is the one powering the lights while you’re in there.
Complaint about regular balconies (as opposed to deluxe) – they have added a chair and table to the living area of the cabin that takes up all of your standing space. It is ridiculous. There is not ROOM for this furniture in these cabins. Regular balconies are like other ships that have the two beds and a desk with a chair on one side. Since all of these cabins have a flat screen tv on the wall, the opposite side of the room has a nice square vanity type thing with the fridge in it and a flat top you can use. However, there just really isn’t room for the EXTRA chair and table in the room. Admittedly, a normal balcony cabin has only one chair in the room and the second person has to sit on the bed or on the balcony, but it is much better.
I’d say in this ship DELUXE balconies are ‘priceless’ for their tiny bit of extra space. They have a loveseat in their sitting area, with a coffee table that goes with it well, and then the desk AND the square corner unit on the opposite side, with you still having room to move around in between the two.
Complaint about mini-suites on this ship only – even though the brochure promises it, there are NO extra bathroom amenities for minis beyond what every other cabin gets. All of the little perks like finger nail files, lip balm, loofah sponges, etc. are no more for mini-suite passengers OR Elite passengers! There is nothing but the standard basic stuff in all bathrooms below suites on this ship. REALLY disappointing.
Balconies on this ship –
There has been a lot of preliminary comments and complaining about the balconies on this ship as compared to other Princess ships, and with good reason. I’m going to give you the rundown here so that you can choose the one that is best for you. However, it is always best to just ask me to advise you as you’re making your booking WITH ME.
First, most of the balconies on this ship are the same size, which is smallish and covered. They are not really that bad EXCEPT that Princess has the same deck furniture on them that they do their other ships. Again, like the regular balconies with that extra chair and table added, they’ve taken away your square footage with furniture that is too large for the space allowed. Some straight backed chairs with straight legs with have a lesser footprint in the confined space than Princess’ current blue furniture with the legs that angle forward and back. There just isn’t room for them. We DO still need the larger table so we can eat on our balcony if we wish, but the chairs need to be different. And the mini-suites have the matching footrest underneath the chair too. Totally laughable if you think you can get the chairs and the footrests extended in this space. Maybe one of them sideways, but not front to back with room still for your legs.
To be clear, throughout all of the straight part of the sides of the ship, the balconies, regardless of the type of cabin, are stacked right on top of each other and are smaller than normal. There isn’t a wedding cake tiered side to this ship. It is straight up and down. When you have a regular balcony next to a deluxe balcony next to a mini-suite they all are the same depth of balcony. The deluxe and the mini just jut out into the hallway of the ship more than the regular balconies do. No straight hallways you can see all the way down on this ship!
I CAN tell you where the larger balconies are, but all of them have a drawback side to them at the moment, so you need to decide what is important to you.
First, they did a funny design on the side underneath the curved SeaWalk and SeaView Bar. Where the outward curves are, you also have a concave curve of the ship there to mirror the SeaWalk in a way. Those little ‘curves’ give you some blessed extra square footage on your balcony. The ‘points’ of the curves are some of the largest balconies you’re going to get amidships. So, if you look at the deck plan, it would be in the 409/410 range on each deck, and also the 428/429 range. Each deck can be slightly different, but you can get the idea. On my 2-day cruise I had D425 and I walked on and wondered what all the hubbub was about on the small balconies because I didn’t HAVE one! But then I got to look at balconies on other decks and got a clue. I had one of the best balconies on the whole ship and I didn’t even know it!
The negative is that as you rise in the decks, these balconies get closer and closer to the SeaWalk and people are RIGHT THERE looking in your balcony if you’re on the higher decks. So, for regular and deluxe balconies, I’d say go for those prime ones on Dolphin, and for Mini-Suites, strive for Caribe category MA. Having a Marina or Riviera deck balcony near the SeaWalk would be weird to me.
The second set of extra large balconies are the aft-facing premium balconies and full suites. The highest decks, Marina and Riviera, are totally uncovered and very large. Down below that, you still get a wedding cake type tiered thing going on with some open and some covered but larger. There isn’t a consistent size difference in the back, so you will have to just go for it. I will get more feedback as time passes.
The drawback of THESE is that every cabin and public area aft of the funnel is getting a fine coating of black soot on it, like a sprinkling. It is something to do with the new propulsion system on the Royal Princess (called SAM F3), and the aerodynamics of the ship messing up the air of the exhaust coming out the funnel. Apparantly, it is not going straight up and out as designed. Princess is working feverishly to fix this / figure out the problem and I don’t anticipate it will be a ‘forever’ problem. And since they know it is an issue, I’d hope also that they’d figure it out before Regal Princess, the twin, comes out in 2014. For now though, you’d have this little issue on the aft facing balconies, so you’d have to decide if you wanted lots of sun and space but to deal with the soot, or smaller space on the sides.
The third area where the balconies are large is the extreme forward of the Emerald deck in Category DZ. These are considered obstructed balconies because they have solid white steel balconies in the forward pointy part of the ship. So, they aren’t obstructed in the way you would think, meaning something in front of your balcony like a life boat. But they’re obstructed meaning if you sit down in your cabin or your balcony you won’t be able to see out unless you stand. E109 and E110 were just massive balconies though. If you didn’t mind the motion being extremely forward, these would be some of your most spacious deluxe balconies on ship.
Ok, so let me discuss now the quirkiness of some of the balconies on the Emerald deck. As you may or may not know, Royal Princess has no cabins with a window. You either have an inside, or a balcony. That means there are balcony cabins behind the lifeboats on Emerald where obstructed oceanviews usually are. And, of course, there are just a huge variety of regular and deluxe balconies with various types of obstruction. Most of them didn’t seem all that bad to me, but some are for sure directly behind a lifeboat. I actually think these are better than a stuffy oceanview cabin because the fresh air would be wonderful, even if the view was bad. You can probably tell where the gaps between boats are, and strive to secure one of those. Just remember ‘obstructed’ means a few different things and they don’t give you advice in the categories about HOW obstructed they are. Expect the worst and then be happy beyond that.
Lastly, there is another very strange quirk of SOME triple occupancy balconies on the Royal Princess you need to be aware of if you plan to book a triple cabin. Of course, some cabins have a triple and quad berth that pull down from the ceiling and make, in essence, two bunk beds when down like always. Someone designed a new triple berth type though, that pulls the third berth down right over the living room area of the cabin rather than the beds. When this new style of triple berth is down, it blocks the balcony door from use. I am not sure if it comes down lower than the upper berth styles of old, but its location alone blocks the balcony door. It is, of course, great if you want to have your third person sleep NOT over you and, presumably, you can do the queen beds with the other two beds still. However, it would only work if you plan to pull that bed down ONLY at night. If you wanted to have your upper berth in the down position all day or all the time, it just doesn’t work. So, be SURE when you book that you’re getting the configuration you want. Some cabins have this odd third, some have a normal third and/or fourth.
Ultimate Ship Tour –
Although I’m not likely to ever do the Chef’s Table, because it is all about the wine and I don’t drink hardly any liquor, I DID sign up for the behind-the-scenes Ultimate Ship Tour. I thought on this totally new ship it would be a worthwhile thing to do. The tour cost $150 per person, and you get more than that in junk back at the end of the tour, so financially it is worth it I guess.
We started with a chat with the dance captain in the theatre, which was informative. And we also got a photo there. Disappointing though that we didn’t get to go behind the scenes under the stage or anything.
Next we met with the Staff Captain near the anchor chains in the forward lower section, and had another photo with him. Then we proceeded to the galley for the Chef, the lady who buys everything for the ship and the store rooms, the photo lab, the print shop, the engine room and then the smoke stacks. Lastly, we went to the bridge and met with the Captain, had another photo and soda, got a great explanation of the gadgets there and could ask all the questions we could think of to one of the other senior officers, and were dismissed.
We were told it would take 3 to 4 hours, but they hussled us all thru in about two and a half.
The stuff we were given at the end were, per person, a suite style ribbed bathrobe, a chef’s apron, a signed and framed photo of us with the Captain on the bridge, and 5x7 sized copies of all of our various group photos during the tour.
We were given some kind of song and dance explanation that the Ultimate Ship Tour participants are drawn in a random lottery from all those that sign up, as only 12 can participate. However, we were the first four to sign up since we were in-transit passengers and we were all chosen. I am not sure if the ‘random’ thing is true or just song and dance and the first to sign up always get it. I’d say, if you’re interested, proceed straight to the purser’s desk when you get on the ship and sign up immediately!
Entertainment and Shows –
I want to briefly mention that both production shows were good. One was called Colors of the World and the other was Sweet Soul Music, or something like that. The singers and dancers also do a Latin Nights performance up on top of the flower shaped water fountain ‘stage’ in between the pools on the top deck which is quite good. You should make an effort to go watch it when it is going to be performed. And they have an ‘in the atrium’ show they did the night of Princess Cays as well, which I missed.
The musicians and comedians and headliner singers were all talented. No complaints.
Pay Extra Restaurants – We did both Crown Grill and Sabatini’s on the 5-day and weren’t particularly overjoyed with either. They were fine. The service was slow. The food was OK. It is the same as other ships. I wouldn’t make an effort to do these ‘same ol’ places again. I’d maybe try the pay extras that are unique to the Royal Princess, like a Wine Maker’s Dinner if I were into wine, or Fondue’s up in the Horizon Court.
Princess Infotainment System – The TVs in cabin have a new system that is quite better than the old one. There are on demand music, television shows, movies and informational programs. If you log into royal.princess.com on your smartphone or tablet, you can also get the daily activity schedule electronically and if you LOGIN to that page you can get your onboard account listing.
I think this is still a work in progress. I have success logging in and viewing my 2-day cruise onboard account, but could never get it to work on the 5-day. It was like the system was ‘stuck’ on my old account within my iPad. You don’t have to log in for general info and the electronic schedule though, so it is handy.
Kids Programs – Princess set aside a really large and great area for their kids’ programs. If you’ve got kids, they’ll be happy on this ship. I’ve got pictures I took on the 2-day agent cruise I will post.
I plan to do a photo album in my SuzyCruisy.com Facebook page to coordinate with this review, so I’ll put that link in when I’ve got time to sort and load the photos. For now, you’ll just have to go with the written word.
Conclusion – As I said at the top, I’d not personally do this ship again if I could avoid it. Having no promenade that I could walk around was really not a ship for me. And I don’t like paying extra for things, so all of the ‘new and cool’ features and food they’ve added that are pay extra don’t appeal to me. And the cabins have less amenities than the older Princess ships. Although I’m sure the lessor services and more pay extra options of this ship are going to be the ‘norm’ someday, right now, I’ll take the Grand Class ships over this in a heartbeat. Grand Class ships are – Grand, Golden, Star, Diamond, Sapphire, Caribbean, Crown, Emerald and Ruby Princess.
If you want an itinerary offered by this ship though, it wasn’t TERRIBLE. Just pick the right cabin for you and take your own hair conditioner!
The link to photo album on SuzyCruisy.com Facebook page is below. If you’re on FB, you can ‘like’ SuzyCruisy.com and see it any time you wish. At the moment, I’ve got cabin photos in there (all types), but will complete it with all the public areas as I have time.
For assistance booking any cruise or land vacation, please contact Suzy at SuzyCruisy.com using the Contact Us at the upper right of this page.