Jump to content

A Princess elite / Royal Class virgin sails Royal for the first time


Recommended Posts

We're veterans of 20 something Princess cruises including 15 on Grand class ships (Grand, Golden, Star, CB & Ruby) 3x on Coral and a few on other vessels.  We booked back to back Mexico itineraries on the Royal departing September 29th.  We were in L107 with a forward Club Class mini with the giant balcony - I'll post separately regarding the cabin.

 

We had read a lot about the Royal prior to booking and had some concerns, we like the prom deck and worried that we'd miss it.  We were concerned about the size and passenger load.  The negative comments go on and on, but loved the itinerary and especially the ability to reach the ship from our central valley home without air travel.  Having completed 15 days we came off with very few nits and a very high level of satisfaction overall.

 

Highs:

+ We loved this crazy cabin (again, more on a separate thread), we tend to like "strange" cabins - we love the Window Suites on Grand/Golden/Caribbean and will be very sad to see them go.  It's possible we found our Royal class oddball cabin to replace them.

+ Medallion.  Our first Medallion experience, and it was good overall.  

+ The ship just sparkles, yes it's newer than anything else we've sailed by many years, but it's also a big step up in decor and 'glitz'.  We enjoyed it.

+ The Horizon Court / Horizon Bistro were fantastic.  My wife HATES buffets but you're forced on port days if staying on board, even she agreed this is the best buffet in memory.  Crowds - few.  Variety - immense.  Seemingly something for everyone.  We've never seen anything on Princess that compares.

+ Staff, with the exception of Crooners (below), were uniformly terrific.

+ As we mentioned we sailed back-to-back with our turnaround on October 4th.  It was our first B2B and it couldn't have been easier, the B2B group was about 75 escorted off at 10:10AM and back on by 10:45AM.  The only glitch came when they asked us to come forward for re-boarding, an elite with 4 pieces of luggage sprinted ahead of the group, was taken aside by the should waving his Elite B boarding card all the while - there's always one right?

+ Club Class dining was very good though the space is divided into two sections one of which is shared one table to the next with ATD which seemed a bit odd.

+ Coffee (regular old coffee, not latte's cappuccino's or anything special) was really quite acceptable.  Not sure what I'll do with my minibar in the future - don't need a coffee card on this ship!

 

Lows:

- Our embarkation on September 29th was the worst we've ever experienced.  The ship had left Vancouver late on the prior coastal and this was widely cited onboard as the excuse for late boarding BUT the ship arrived at the pier in San Pedro on time so I'm not buying that.  I think the problem may have been the fact that Coral was doing a turnaround that same day and perhaps the two good sized ships attempting to get turnover overwhelmed Princess personnel.  No matter the cause boarding didn't start for Elites until 12:20 the terminal was shoulder to shoulder by then.  Princess had made not one single announcement since we arrived about 10:50 and folks were, let's say grumpy.

- The primary entertainment group was a very good troupe of Mariachi's.  For the record I LIKE mariachi music and I do recognize these were cruises to Mexico. However, the group played in the Piazza 13 of our 15 evenings on board at the cocktail hour (7:00PM) and they were amplified to maximum volume everywhere in the Piazza.  Want a glass of champagne at Bellini's - better find a menu and point - they can't hear you.  Want a glass of wine in Vines - point and use hand signals for how many.  A martini in Crooners - scream at the top of your lungs into the servers ear.  Like to chat with your friends - impossible wait for dinner or head back to Wheelhouse which was always standing room only.  Really this is my only substantial disappointment.

- We're huge fans of the Sanctuary and the space is beautiful on Royal.  The ship was obviously built with this in mind (it's an afterthought on all other classes) it's a lovely space but it was very hot for these Mexico sailings.  The gaps around the glass that exist on Grand class ships are replaced by fixed glass on Royal - probably great in Alaska but the absence of even a hint of breeze made most of the space unusable for much of the day.  Most folks who paid for Sanctuary ended up huddled in the large gazebo most of the day, not unpleasant, but not what you paid for either.  A bit of shade, some fans for air movement or some ventilation would make the space more pleasant.

- As I wrote, service was uniformly good with the exception of Crooners.  In this lounge the 3 staff assigned were clearly miserable with their assignment.  Their attitudes were, to put it very generously, very poor.  Service was slow, no matter the day or time, the fact that all 3 behaved the same made me think something awful had happened - they were like whipped puppies.  More positively the drinks were well made and always well chilled.  Very refreshing.

- Access to Club Class dining.  As I wrote above CC is in one of the main dining rooms - as always.  In this case though the entrance was also shared with the MDR which created huge lines the first several nights.  Eventually we were recognized on sight deep in the line and pulled aside.  The CC host said "just pass them by" but doing so wasn't easy and felt rude.  The solution could have been very simple - Club Class to one size, ATD to the other, but this wasn't the way it was done.  Ultimately we just pushed our dinner time back closer to 8:00 by which time the crowd had usually died down.

- Medallion.  Worked reliably for access and egress.  Absolutely didn't work for the wait staff.  Every cocktail person asked for "cabin number please".  Some bartenders had tablets which showed them who was at the bar - they'd just verify your name.  Shops sometimes had you scan your medallion, sometimes just looked at the tablet to confirm who you were.  There's so much potential here - but it just isn't being used.

 

On the whole we LOVED the Royal and would book her again anytime.  Is she our new favorite - probably not - the Sanctuary issues are a biggie for us and would hold us back except for the coldest itineraries.  But would I book her and look forward to her again - absolutely. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks so much for your review. We are also Elite 20+ Princes cruisers on our first Royal  Princess cruise leaving this Saturday. We are also booked in Club Class and your description of the access to the Club Class dining doesn't give us a warm feeling. We did club class on the Star in April and there was a separate CC entrance from the regular ATD entrance with a sign that said Club Class. That ship also had some  CC tables next to the ATD tables. 

 

Did you have any issues with having to wait for a table in Club Class?

 

Seems like many of the Princess ships have been "cranking up" the music in the Piazza but what you experienced seems excessive. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review.  🙂

 

We've done about 35 cruises, but will be sailing a Royal class and medallion for the first time.  We are a bit apprehensive because we like the smaller ships, but decided to give the new "girls" a try.

 

Patti

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, jondfk said:

 

 

Lows:

- Our embarkation on September 29th was the worst we've ever experienced.  The ship had left Vancouver late on the prior coastal and this was widely cited onboard as the excuse for late boarding BUT the ship arrived at the pier in San Pedro on time so I'm not buying that.  I think the problem may have been the fact that Coral was doing a turnaround that same day and perhaps the two good sized ships attempting to get turnover overwhelmed Princess personnel.  No matter the cause boarding didn't start for Elites until 12:20 the terminal was shoulder to shoulder by then.  Princess had made not one single announcement since we arrived about 10:50 and folks were, let's say grumpy.

 

I don't have an explanation of why embarkation for your cruise went so poorly, but the ship was not arriving from Vancouver on the 29th.  I was on the Royal Princess that day and we were returning from our Los Angeles-Alaska round trip cruise that departed on Sept. 17.  (The cruise from Vancouver that was delayed was the one that arrived on the 17th, and, in fact it did not reach the dock in San Pedro until 2:30 pm.  So, our departure was delayed until, about, 9:30 pm.)  As you indicated we arrived at the dock on the 29th right on time.  I can report that disembarkation went off right on schedule.

 

Your theory about the Coral Princess being in port at the same time and that stretching Princess' resources sure seems to have merit, but, from the viewpoint of a consumer, that just should not happen.

 

 

21 hours ago, jondfk said:

- The primary entertainment group was a very good troupe of Mariachi's.  For the record I LIKE mariachi music and I do recognize these were cruises to Mexico. However, the group played in the Piazza 13 of our 15 evenings on board at the cocktail hour (7:00PM) and they were amplified to maximum volume everywhere in the Piazza.  Want a glass of champagne at Bellini's - better find a menu and point - they can't hear you.  Want a glass of wine in Vines - point and use hand signals for how many.  A martini in Crooners - scream at the top of your lungs into the servers ear.  Like to chat with your friends - impossible wait for dinner or head back to Wheelhouse which was always standing room only.  Really this is my only substantial disappointment.

 

 

I might be the one person who is not, at all, enamored with the Piazza area on the Royal Princess.  I found that most activities in the Piazza--e.g., Dance Band or Line Dancing class, even the charming violin duet who had recorded accompanying music--were too loud.  Similar to your experience, we found conversation in the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar to be futile.

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, hobo1937 said:

Thanks so much for your review. We are also Elite 20+ Princes cruisers on our first Royal  Princess cruise leaving this Saturday. We are also booked in Club Class and your description of the access to the Club Class dining doesn't give us a warm feeling. We did club class on the Star in April and there was a separate CC entrance from the regular ATD entrance with a sign that said Club Class. That ship also had some  CC tables next to the ATD tables. 

 

Did you have any issues with having to wait for a table in Club Class?

 

Seems like many of the Princess ships have been "cranking up" the music in the Piazza but what you experienced seems excessive. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re Club Class.  If you can slip in the 'out' door on the left side - do so and then signal the reception person.  On the subject of table availability we never had any issue, once we managed to reach the reception person we were seated immediately.  Most nights we dined as 2, one night we joined two friends and a table for 4 was created upon request.  Because they borrow space from the ATD (and the space they take is prime window space) most tables are at most one or two tables from the window.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review.  We'll be on our first Royal/first Medallion in January...

I WILL miss the Club Class Dining though...we had it on our last Princess cruise (and we had Aqua/Blu on our last cruise...on Celebrity)...but we are back to eating with "the masses" on this one.  Our deal on an allegedly obstructed Premium Balcony (E108) was too good to pass up...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review, got my first trip on Royal Princess booked for the end of next month after sailing all but one of my Princess cruise on Grand/Crown class ships (the other one was on Island Princess.) I still like the smaller Grand class ships (Star and Sapphire would probably be my two favorites) but looking forward to trying out the Royal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jondfk said:

 

Re Club Class.  If you can slip in the 'out' door on the left side - do so and then signal the reception person.  On the subject of table availability we never had any issue, once we managed to reach the reception person we were seated immediately.  Most nights we dined as 2, one night we joined two friends and a table for 4 was created upon request.  Because they borrow space from the ATD (and the space they take is prime window space) most tables are at most one or two tables from the window.

 

Thanks for the tip.  What is interesting is the Princess Website lists "Private Entrance with Host" as one of the benefits of Club Class. Guess they mean using the "out" door on the Royal Princess!

 

 Regarding the noise levels, Apple recently added a noise app on the Apple Watch that gives decibel readings... I intend to check it out in the piazza next week. 

Edited by hobo1937
added information
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/15/2019 at 6:32 PM, jondfk said:

+ The Horizon Court / Horizon Bistro were fantastic.  My wife HATES buffets but you're forced on port days if staying on board, even she agreed this is the best buffet in memory.  Crowds - few.  Variety - immense.  Seemingly something for everyone.  We've never seen anything on Princess that compares.

 

 

I'm not a fan of buffets. I go to Alfredo's for lunch on the Royal and Regal. Or else will pick up a bite to eat at the International Café. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, hobo1937 said:

Thanks for the tip.  What is interesting is the Princess Website lists "Private Entrance with Host" as one of the benefits of Club Class. Guess they mean using the "out" door on the Royal Princess!

 

 Regarding the noise levels, Apple recently added a noise app on the Apple Watch that gives decibel readings... I intend to check it out in the piazza next week. 

I will be on the Royal with you.  Please share your decibel readings so I can share with my audiologist daughter 😊

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, geoherb said:

 

I'm not a fan of buffets. I go to Alfredo's for lunch on the Royal and Regal. Or else will pick up a bite to eat at the International Café. 

We found the buffet on the Royal Princess (2 cruises) to be a large step above those on other Princess ships.   They often have a specialty line that has been excellent.   Give it a try sometime.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like the Medallion works on the Royal about the same as it worked when we were recently on the CB.  The common question from most bar waiters or other staff was "what is your cabin number."  Most of the wait staff do not even bother carrying or use their portable medallion readers.  They simply jot down your cabin number and check it at the bar.  We posted about this issue a couple of months ago.  One staffer on the CB said the portable medallion readers (just a phone with a Medallion receiver on the back) are not very convenient (for the staff) and the battery will not even hold a charge for an entire work shift.

 

Hank

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, jondfk said:

 

Re Club Class.  If you can slip in the 'out' door on the left side - do so and then signal the reception person.  On the subject of table availability we never had any issue, once we managed to reach the reception person we were seated immediately.  Most nights we dined as 2, one night we joined two friends and a table for 4 was created upon request.  Because they borrow space from the ATD (and the space they take is prime window space) most tables are at most one or two tables from the window.

 

The lines discussed are ATD people waiting to eat when the DR opens for ATD at 7:30pm. Before this the DR is traditional early dining.  If anyone was waiting to enter, we just politely went around them and took our same seat in the CC dining area.  Didn't have to wait for the receptionist person (this is of course after the first night when you first check in.)  And once you have sat at the same table(to get the same wait staff you like), usually at least for us, we would go to eat within 6:00-6:30 and "our" table would be waiting for us(we like a booth/chairs table for 4 and then DH and I both sit on the booth portion.  Once the staff saw this, they had it ready for us!  We were on a 24 day itinerary, so this was very nice.

 

Pooh

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, PoohUnderstands said:

The lines discussed are ATD people waiting to eat when the DR opens for ATD at 7:30pm. Before this the DR is traditional early dining.  If anyone was waiting to enter, we just politely went around them and took our same seat in the CC dining area.  Didn't have to wait for the receptionist person (this is of course after the first night when you first check in.)  And once you have sat at the same table(to get the same wait staff you like), usually at least for us, we would go to eat within 6:00-6:30 and "our" table would be waiting for us(we like a booth/chairs table for 4 and then DH and I both sit on the booth portion.  Once the staff saw this, they had it ready for us!  We were on a 24 day itinerary, so this was very nice.

 

Pooh

Sounds like the management of  CC is not consistent between different ships. On the Star in April, there was a separate entrance for CC on the opposite side of the dining room from the main entrance.. We usually went to dinner around 7:30 and rarely got the same table or waitstaff two nights in a row let alone for the whole cruise, which was 12 nights. Sometimes we had to wait for a table.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, hobo1937 said:

Sounds like the management of  CC is not consistent between different ships. On the Star in April, there was a separate entrance for CC on the opposite side of the dining room from the main entrance.. We usually went to dinner around 7:30 and rarely got the same table or waitstaff two nights in a row let alone for the whole cruise, which was 12 nights. Sometimes we had to wait for a table.

 

Our experience on Grand / CB and Ruby was exactly as you describe.  In all cases Club Class and only Club Class used the Starboard side entrance while Anytime used the Port side.  I'm not sure why Royal uses a different system - CC used the Port side.  ATD used both sides (starting at 7:30 as noted above) this had the Club Class host serving as the de facto coordinator for the entire dining room which was at best inefficient.  As Pooh noted, once you were recognized by sight you were indeed pulled forward, in my experience this took 3 or 4 dinners.  We never settled on a fixed table but did dine most evenings with either Marina or Abraham who were both very good waiters though quite different in style.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the report on Royal Princess. We will be on her for a Mexican Riviera cruise in May 2020. We have 20+ cruises on Royal Caribbean but only one night on Princess so glad to get any information we can on Royal Princess. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, jondfk said:

 

Our experience on Grand / CB and Ruby was exactly as you describe.  In all cases Club Class and only Club Class used the Starboard side entrance while Anytime used the Port side.  I'm not sure why Royal uses a different system - CC used the Port side.  ATD used both sides (starting at 7:30 as noted above) this had the Club Class host serving as the de facto coordinator for the entire dining room which was at best inefficient.  As Pooh noted, once you were recognized by sight you were indeed pulled forward, in my experience this took 3 or 4 dinners.  We never settled on a fixed table but did dine most evenings with either Marina or Abraham who were both very good waiters though quite different in style.

Just curious if this same scenario took place for breakfast and the sea day lunches. 

 

Also on the Star ,the host did some food prep, a special  pasta dish at lunch and caesar salads at dinner. Sounds like the Royal host wouldn't have time for that. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, hobo1937 said:

Just curious if this same scenario took place for breakfast and the sea day lunches. 

 

Also on the Star ,the host did some food prep, a special  pasta dish at lunch and caesar salads at dinner. Sounds like the Royal host wouldn't have time for that. 

 

Well the system worked the same way (meaning ATD & CC in the same line) but so few people went to lunch that there were no related delays.  Most days one of the CC waiters just grabbed us as we entered the door and took us to a table.  

 

Breakfast, we ate in the DR only one day and it was turnaround day on our B2B so most folks were jockeying for position to get off the ship - we were literally the only two in CC that morning - we went just 10 or 15 minutes prior to closing.  I don't think this experience was representative.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/17/2019 at 10:44 AM, hobo1937 said:

I will be happy to share the readings on this thread.

Just wanted to come back and post the decibel readings we got on our apple watches from the Piazza on the Royal. The readings on deck 5 during loud music ranged from 96-100. On decks 6 and 7 they ranged from 85-90. Those readings indicate being exposed to 95-100 decibles would cause short term hearing loss after 3 minutes at 100 db and 10 minutes at 95 db. The 85-90 db range would cause short term hearing loss of 30 minutes at 90 db and 1:45 minutes at 85 db. Feel sorry for the crew that have to work in those areas. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

For newbies on the Royal or the Regal - if you are on a fair weather cruise, make sure you walk all the way to the rear of the buffet and discover the Horizon Terrace.  It is a large, lovely outdoor seating area with chairs, couches and tables and a full bar. It is our go to location for sail away cocktails (plus you can bring food from the buffet outside).

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, hobo1937 said:

Just wanted to come back and post the decibel readings we got on our apple watches from the Piazza on the Royal. The readings on deck 5 during loud music ranged from 96-100. On decks 6 and 7 they ranged from 85-90. Those readings indicate being exposed to 95-100 decibles would cause short term hearing loss after 3 minutes at 100 db and 10 minutes at 95 db. The 85-90 db range would cause short term hearing loss of 30 minutes at 90 db and 1:45 minutes at 85 db. Feel sorry for the crew that have to work in those areas. 

 

Thank you for confirming my point, the music was so loud that it very much limited the otherwise very enjoyable piazza.  The idea that the music could be so loud as to risk hearing damage is inexcusable, I truly hope Princess will turn the knob 20% to the left.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Thank You for 25 Years - Click for Fun Stuff!
      • Forum Assistance
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: American Queen Steamboat Company
      • Q&A: Cruise Insurance with Steve Dasseos of TripInsuranceStore.com - June 2021
      • ICYM Our Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Explore the Remote World with Hurtigruten!
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...