Royal Princess Review
By Rosalind Smith, Director of Business Development, The Cruise Web, Inc.
During the very early morning hours of October 27th the Royal Princess made history with her arrival to America for the very first time to begin her inaugural Caribbean season from Port Everglades, FL.
Along with our guests, The Cruise Web’s President, Frans Hansen, and I were among those honored to step aboard this vessel in U.S. waters for the very first time. As you may recall, the Royal Princess was christened earlier this year by her Godmother HRH, the Duchess of Cambridge. The christening was one of the last public appearances for the Duchess, formerly known as Kate Middleton, before giving birth to Prince George. We were treated to a video of that ceremony under the stars as we set sail from Port Everglades. A short time later the ship slowed for a fireworks celebration honoring this moment in Princess Cruises’ history.
There was so much to do in so little time aboard this 3,600-passenger cruise ship. It is modern cruising with classic traditions. The indoor and outdoor public spaces are very well utilized, even offering flexible meeting space. And the multipurpose deck space and gentle interior décor radiate subdued elegance. For me, a few of the spaces stood out: the ship’s Atrium, Sanctuary and pool deck.
The Atrium: This central space is the ship’s nucleus where cafes and entertainment venues all come together. Any of these venues offer the perfect location for groups to gather informally before dinner. You can mingle, sit or stand on one of three decks looking into the Atrium and its various live performances throughout your voyage.
The Sanctuary: This retreat was a true escape to solitude and tranquility designed exclusively for adults. It is the perfect place to lounge, rest and rejuvenate. The Sanctuary has its own pool and sun deck. Spending time here was like vacationing at a secluded (albeit floating) villa.
The Lido Deck: The Lido deck is generally where I spend those leisurely days at sea and the Royal Princess did not disappoint. As a self-proclaimed pool-junkie, I took up temporary residency at the centrally located platform-style deck before retreating to the Fountain Pool, conveniently flanked by hot tubs. The Plunge Pool was perfect for those wishing to simply go for a quick dip. There are four levels of deck space with no shortage of lounge chairs. The outdoor space is well utilized and multifunctional.
During the sail away celebration the platform-style sun deck became a performance stage, complete with waterworks from the built-in fountains. The colorful fountain show, which is set to music, is the perfect backdrop for an evening stroll or after dinner cocktail. One of Princess’ signature features is the Movie Under the Stars. In case you miss the 30-foot screen, the lounge chairs set with blankets and the passing whiff of freshly popped popcorn will let you know you are in the right place. We had the pleasure of a movie under the sun. During the day we saw the latest Superman movie! Despite the bright Caribbean sunshine the movie screen displayed a brilliant picture without any glare from anywhere on deck. I still think we had the best seats in the house – the hot tub!
Generally, the only event capable of pulling me away from the afternoon sun without a fuss is tea time. To my delight, the Royal Princess takes tea time seriously with their very own Royal Afternoon Tea Experience. However, don’t let the formality of afternoon tea keep you away. Stop by the Tea Tower in the Piazza, which houses more than 200 loose leaf varietals. Artisan blends from around the world can be brewed at your individual choice of temperature and steeping time. True tea connoisseurs may find pleasure in blending their very own tea!
Now if you’ve heard anything about the Royal Princess it was probably about the SeaWalk. This is the ship’s unique feature where you can walk along a glass-floored passageway that juts over the side of the ship to create a unique feeling while sailing. The SeaWalk evokes a unique feeling from day to night.
There was another feature that pleasantly surprised me on the Royal Princess. Today, nearly every cruise ship has hand sanitizing stations at dining entrances. On the Royal Princess there are full service hand washing stations at the Horizon Court entrance, the single most popular dining venue onboard. I think this shows Princess Cruises’ commitment to passenger health.
Additionally, I’m impressed with Royal Princess’ standard for ocean view staterooms – there aren’t any. Instead of ocean view staterooms, all outside staterooms have a balcony, from standard rooms to Penthouse Suites. Personally, I think this is brilliant! If you are going to see the ocean, you might as well be able to feel the breeze and smell the fresh ocean air.
For a better idea of the ship and her spaces, check out this video about what travel agents thought of the ship, including a cameo from The Cruise Web’s President, Frans Hansen, at the 0:23 mark and the 1:48 mark.
Overall, I was very pleased and quite honored to sail on the Royal Princess as she made her American debut. I hope that I conveyed her magnificence well in this article and I am always available to answer any questions you might have about the ship, her programs and service for leisure or business cruising. Please feel free to ask in the comments below.