Ship visits are a great way to experience a certain product at first hand to see wherever the vessel suits the personal preferences or not. And what city could be more perfect to explore Princess Cruises´ luxurious Royal Princess than the romantic Venice in Italy? Admittedly, I could have thought of more inviting weather conditions, but on the other hand just the typical winter day here in Venezia. Welcome aboard!
Having been the first new-built for years, Royal Princess was constructed at the Italian Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone and was handed over to the cruise line in June 2013.
She was the first and name giving vessel for the so-called Royal class that Princess Cruises had ordered back in 2010. With her inauguration, Royal Princess was so far the largest ship for Princess and the biggest vessel ever built on the shipyard.
Until today, there are already two additional Royal class ships in service: Regal Princess (May 2014) and Majestic Princess (Summer 2017).
The newest and for the time being last Royal class ship, Sky Princess, is scheduled to join the fleet in 2019.
As the name implies, Royal Princess truly has royal heritage as she was christened by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge.
The ship is actually the third vessel in the history of Princess Cruises that carries the name which was inaugurated back in 1984.
She can accommodate 3,600 passengers in luxurious cabins and measures 330 meters in length. With altogether 15 accessible decks, passengers can take a walk 40 meters right above sea level on the extraordinary SeaWalk promenade which is one of the trademarks of the Royal class.
But enough of the details, let us go onboard, shall we?
We will start on Deck 5, which hosts quite an array of public spaces. Probably the most impressive one is the so-called Piazza with the beautiful hotel-style Atrium.
The Piazza is the ship´s beating heart. Designed to resemble a typical Italian square, the atrium holds a large array of cafés, bars and seating.
It is therefore a major socializing and meeting point and may also be used for concerts or other sorts of entertainment.
Of course, the glittering Atrium is the main eye-catcher of this area. It s completely done in marble and reminds me much of the lobby of one of those exclusive Grand Hotels.
Other than on previous Princess vessels, Royal Princess´ atrium is about 50 percent larger.
Compared to other cruise lines, Princess Cruises still tried to maintain the familiar atmosphere that their ships are popular for and limited the height of the lobby to only three decks.
The Piazza Bar is a cosy little retreat nestled at the side of the Piazza.
Another popular place is the International Café for any coffee speciality or sweet tooth cravings.
Vines is the line´s Wine bar which focuses on a broad international collection serving Tapas style nibbles on the side.
Gelato is the place to be for everyone being in love with house made ice cream. It reminds me a bit of Alice in Wonderland, doesn´t it?
Another hotspot for sweet teeth: Celebrations. Wherever it is gummy bears or Godiva chocolates that you are craving for. You will most certainly find it here.
Almost a bit out-of-place from all the sweet and savory seductions: The Internet Cafe. I like the fact, that this place actually has some daylight.
From the Piazza towards the back of the ship lies one of Royal Princess´ three main dining rooms. Symphony Dining Room. Together with Concerto one deck up, Symphony is allocated to those passengers who have decided for the Anytime Dining concept. This allows them to dine at their convenience anytime between 5:30 pm and 10 pm.
Back towards the front of the ship, right next to the Piazza, are the Passenger Services located.
Front Desk, Shore Excursions and Future Cruise Sales are all grouping around a small fountain. The atmosphere and layout are familiar and clear, not necessarily typical for a ship of this size.
Right adjacent, one of Royal Princess´ speciality restaurants. Sabatini´s is the line´s popular Italian trattoria. It focuses on traditional Italian cuisine and also delivers excellent seafood dishes. Cover charge is 29$US pp.
The rest of the forward section of Deck 5 is taken up by the spacious Lotus Spa.
Being a huge spa fan myself, I found the beautiful yet a bit limited The Enclave not so much convincing to pay the extra fee for using it. There are not too many heated loungers and the miss of daylight and sea views absolutely prevents me from adding this to the bill. I definitely need sea views, how about you?
Deck 6 forwards holds the ship´s massive Princess Theatre. Other than on other ships of this size, the theatre is kept rather low, so no balconies or boxes. I very much like the design, but I think this layout makes it much more difficult to see the stage once you are short like me:).
The Casino lies right behind the theatre and is the place to be if you are in the mood to challenge your luck before or after a show.
With magnificent views over the main atrium Bellini´s (located on the center balcony) serves classy cocktails in an elegant ambiance.
The rest of the area around the atrium on Deck 6 are taken up by the Photo & Video Gallery and Alfredo´s Pizza (no photos available).
Next is the second Anytime Dining restaurant Concerto Dining Room (no photos available) and the rear Allegro Dining Room. The latter is available to guests that prefer the traditional seatings at either 6:00pm or 8:15pm. This particular dining room is only accessible via the rear staircase from Deck 7 and also features the Chef´s Table Lumière. This special occasion dining consists of a champagne behind-the-scenes galley tour with canapés followed by an extravagant multi-course dinner hosted by the ship´s executive chef.
Already on Deck 7, the Promenade deck, you will find most of the onboard shopping venues and boutiques. Like Calypso Cove, for instance.
The Ocean Terrace and Seafood Bar is the place for fresh oysters and a glass of champagne.
On the same level you will find the Princess Cruises´ favorites Crooners …
… and Facets bar, both grouping around the atrium.
Something that other cruise lines had already been quite successful with was also implemented to the Royal Princess:
An own onboard TV studio called Princess Live! that does not only record and broadcasts live shows, but which also functions as stage for artists or live cooking demonstrations or game shows.
Just down the hall lies the very maritime and elegant Wheelhouse Bar. This is the kind of bar that you would normally find aboard a Cunard ocean liner. The perfect place to enjoy a distinguished pre-dinner drink, don´t you think?
Crown Grill is the most exclusive speciality restaurant aboard Royal Princess. USA Today calls it “one of the best cruise ship Steak Houses” in the industry and as the name implies, it focuses on prime meats and seafood which are prepared in an open kitchen to the likings. This delicious treat comes at a cover charge of 29$US pp. I think that is a great value!
Definitely not competitive in size, but absolutely beautifully designed is the Library in the back of Deck 7.
For those of you who love intimate lounges for live performances like jazz or piano music, Vista Lounge is the place-to-be. I am not so sure wherever the guests residing in cabins above the lounge appreciate the venue as much, but it surely is a cosy place to spend a relaxing evening.
Next stop is a standard Interior stateroom on Deck 8. These cabins measure around 158 to 162 square feet and offer a spacious layout with a generous closet and a modern bathroom.
This Balcony cabin is a good example of a standard veranda stateroom aboard the ship. Other than previous ships in the fleet, Royal Princess is lacking outside cabins and passengers can only choose between interior staterooms or cabins with a balcony. These cabins have approximately 214 to 222 square meters and offer inside a dedicated vanity area.
As there were no suites available for inspection, I found my personal favorite amongst the cabins that I was allowed to visit: A luxurious Mini Suite. Placed in between a suite and a balcony cabin, these 323 square meters large balcony staterooms offer a wonderful amount of space for a great value. They offer a separate living area, a welcome glass of champagne, ample stowage and a larger veranda than the regular balcony cabins.
The bathrooms all feature a bathtub and a few other extras that you do not find in the other categories. Absolutely cosy and I would have loved to check-in straight away.
While all decks in between Deck 8 and Deck 16 are occupied by cabins only, Deck 16 finally opens up with the Fountain Pool and the sun deck.
This area is designed for the whole family with a central water game area and a small pool for the kids. The area around offers splendid space for sun loungers and seating.
Trident Grill is one of the casual dining spaces serving hot dogs, burgers and sandwiches by the pool.
As the name implies, Seaview Bar provides most excellent vistas towards the horizon or the waterline (if you dare to sit there…).
I know at least one person who could not walk over the glass floor of SeaWalk to experience this thrilling view from 40 meters above sea level. Royal Princess was actually the first ship to offer a panoramic glass promenade like this. Since then, many new vessels have adapted this feature in one way or the other.
Something that Princess Cruises has also been a trendsetter in was the introduction of the Movies underneath the Stars decades ago. A giant LED screen plays classic and current movie blockbusters in the evenings while passengers can get comfortable in sun loungers enjoying freshly prepared popcorn.
The remains of Deck 16 towards the stern is taken up by the massive buffet restaurant Horizon Court.
I was more than happy to find an outdoor terrace as well where I could enjoy my breakfast in the fresh air. Something I really do not like to do without with.
Reaching Deck 17, we will begin at the back of the ship where you will find the Fitness Center.
For someone like me, who enjoys to stay active during the cruise (while feasting on all the wonderful food that there is), the gym is equipped with state-of-the-art cardio and muscle-building machines by Precor Fitness including free weights and a bench. Perfect!
The remains of Deck 17 hold various areas for sun bathing and additional whirlpools.
If you are seeking a bit more tranquility and peace while reading your favorite book, The Retreat, an exclusive Adult only area, might be the perfect place for you. I know, it definitely is for me!
Wherever it is in a poolside cabana or simply on one of the regular loungers, The Retreat offers a luxurious alternative to the more frequented family pool. It is available free of charge for everyone above 18 years of age and offers a pool, a bar and two whirlpools. The cabanas are available for rental beginning at 50$US for half a day. At night-time, the space transforms into an ambient lighted Miami style outdoor club.
Offering the utmost in luxury sunbathing and relaxing is The Sanctuary on the top deck above the navigational bridge.
This little hideaway was introduced back in 2006 and has proved successful ever since. It is 20 percent larger than on previous ships and features four private cabanas for treatments and relaxation in absolute privacy. In addition, smaller cabanas and day beds are also available for rental. Services include lounge music and wellness snacks and drinks and passes are available starting at 20$US for half a day/40$US for a full day per person.
And if you had enough time to rejuvenate, just head over to the Sports Court up on Deck 18.
Here you will find anything for getting sweaty in the fresh ocean breeze. A multi-purpose court for playing tennis, handball, soccer or basketball, table tennis or outdoor training equipment. A spacious running track leading around the funnel offers great room for all the runners amongst you. Well thought through as I personally dislike those ships where the track combines with the sun deck like on the Solstice class ships of Celebrity, for instance.
And even though it is tiny, the Putting Green on the top deck at least allows to practice a bit… .
Well, and this is where my tour actually comes to an end already. I think, Royal Princess is quite a neat ship in terms of design and functionality. The interiors and the layout of the different areas make you actually neglect how big of a cruise ship she actually is. Personally, I very much like the classic approach in the design language and the colors chosen for the fittings. Makes much of an impression of NOT being on any average fun ship, right?
For a classic cruiser like me, definitely worth considering for a future cruise. I you feel the same, here you will find more information about the ship itself and what Princess Cruises is all about. For a selection of cruises aboard Royal Princess, click here.
Happy sailing, peeps, and share the post of you liked it! Thank you!