cruises

Princess Cruises Royal Princess Review

The first new Princess ship in 5 years brings a number of enhancements to the line’s typical layout and design. But a few changes made no sense to us.

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Service

Overall, the crew aboard Royal Princess was excellent, and we appreciated the smoothly run operation. But there were some exceptions. The check-in process at Port Everglades was particularly disorganized and poorly managed, riddled with conflicting instructions and long lines. We found servers stretched thin in the Crown Grill on the busy night we dined there, and a couple other dining experiences were shortchanged by understaffing. Otherwise, from our cabin attendant to the waiters in restaurants and bars, service was polished and warm.

Ship Communications

The ship’s daily newsletter, Princess Patter, arrived in our room each evening, revealing the schedule of activities and promotions for the following day. We find Princess Cruises’ layout of the schedule to be strictly linear, with little to guide those interested in (for instance) fitness activities or gambling events.

Although announcements from the captain over the ship’s p.a. system could be heard in hallways, general announcements by the cruise director and other officers seemed to be audible only on outside decks.

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Internet Facilities

Located just off the Piazza, the Internet Café offered 14 Asus PCs for surfing the web and checking email. The facility seemed crowded at many times, with slightly fewer computers available than we’ve usually found on smaller Princess ships. Computers could be accessed anytime, and the station was staffed several hours in the morning, afternoon and evening. But for anyone who anticipates working while aboard we’d recommend bringing a laptop to access the ship’s WiFi.

The basic rate for internet access—using our own laptop anywhere on the ship or using the Internet Café’s computers—was a stiff .79 per minute, plus a $3.95 activation fee. Packages reduced the per-minute rates, including a “last day” package was also available for the last full day of the cruise: 15 minutes for $8.99. Although ship WiFi is typically slow (or tedious), we found access to be a bit better than average. A printer was available in the Internet Café for printing emails or boarding passes.

Dress Codes

While Princess Cruises does not have a strict dress code, most passengers adhered to the line’s recommendations. By day, sports wear and casual attire was the rule, with swimwear discouraged from public rooms and lounges. After 5:30 p.m., suggested eveningwear was Smart Casual—skirts/dresses, slacks, and sweaters for women; pants and open-neck shirts for men. Pool and beach attire, shorts, ball caps and casual jeans (with fraying and/or holes) were not permitted in the dining rooms, and shoes were required.

On a 7- to 13-night cruise, count on two Formal nights. For the main dining rooms that would be evening gowns and cocktail dresses for women; tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits with a tie for men. At least three-quarters of the passengers observed the dress code on our cruise.

Laundry Facilities

We found laundry rooms located near the aft stairwell on every deck with cabins, except Deck 16. They were large and tidy—we didn’t see lines to use the facilities. Prices were $2 per load for wash, $2 for dry, and $1.50 for detergent, all handled with tokens provided with the swipe of a key card.

General Health and Safety

Held just prior to disembarkation, room keys were scanned when we arrived for the Muster Drill. All passengers were required to bring their life vests for the Muster Drill, and instructions for wearing them were provided. The information was conveyed in a thorough, detailed manner.

Hand sanitizers were present at all restaurant entrances and their use was encouraged. There were two sink stations available for washing hands near the entrance to Horizon Court buffet, which we applaud.

Clinics

The medical center was located on Deck 4, midship. It was staffed 9 a.m. to 12 noon (8 to 10 a.m. on port days) and 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Smoking Policy

Indoor areas of Royal Princess—including cabins and their balconies—were principally designated as non-smoking. The two exceptions to this policy were Churchill’s Lounge (a smoking room under the theater on Deck 6), and the casino, which seemed to be fairly well ventilated. On two nights of our cruise the casino was designated as non-smoking.

Smoking was permitted outside in designated areas only: Deck 7 starboard side aft, and Deck 17 starboard side aft.

General Policies

For information on Princess Cruises’ tipping and service charge policy, see here.

For information on Princess Cruises’ alcohol policy, see here.

For information on Princess Cruises’ loyalty program, see here.

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