Royal Princess Cruise Review by liusinthesun
- Sail Date: March 2018
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Balcony
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and stayed at the Best Western Oceanside Inn. The accommodations were fine. We booked the hotel based on the fact that it was cheap and on the beach, however, because Tortuga was happening, that beach was closed so we had to walk about 2 miles to gain beach access. When we arrived back from our cruise we stayed at the Hilton Beach Resort. It was very nice but not as nice as the Royal Princess!
We used Uber and Lyft to get around everywhere and for the most part it was great. The only problem we ran into was that because of all our luggage, we ran into trunk space problems because you could not request certain trunk sizes. We ended up having to order two UberXL's for our family of 8 just because of trunk space.
Embarkation was the best I have ever experienced. We were assigned times to arrive by deck number. We were on Caribe so we arrived at 1:30. It was a breeze, there were literally no lines and we walked right on to the ship. I can't tell you how easy it was, it was amazing.
THE SHIP AND CABIN:
The Royal Princess is so beautiful! To me, it felt like being at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Just a very modern, clean, beautifully designed space. We got a balcony cabin for the first time and probably will never be going back to an interior room. We loved seeing the ports, being woken by the sun and enjoying the most beautiful sunsets. The rooms are new and clean. The bathrooms I felt had more space than some of the older Princess ships, we never felt too cramped there. We loved the on demand TV! It was nice to catch up on a whole bunch of movies on our time. Or watch TV shows on demand. I have to say, it was disappointing to come back to our hotel and have to watch regular TV again. We were in the back of the ship and didn't feel much motion, but it was annoying to always have to walk mid-ship to get anywhere. I'd probably book mid-ship next time if I could. My parents also had a balcony that they loved and my siblings shared an interior room. There were four of them in there and it was cramped but livable. Not the most spacious interior room I've been in.
There were plenty of activities on board. We did notice that they were mostly geared towards an older crowd as 80% of the ship was over 60 years old. Still, there were things for us younger folk to do. We enjoyed the steel drum classes, karaoke, some shows, and especially Movies Under the Stars. We tried the Stargazing activity that we were really looking forward to, and it was ridiculous. Firstly, it was on the lawn court and there are HUGE white globe things sticking up into the sky blocking most of your view. Then they turned off all the lights in the back EXCEPT the bright string of lights going all across the back. We couldn't see anything up there. It was pointless. We left after a few minutes because we couldn't see and the sound devices weren't working either.
They didn't have Voice of the Ocean on this cruise and I was sad because I was looking forward to possibly participating. The cruise director said it was because of the new production "The Magic Silk" that required so much set space, they couldn't accommodate both. "The Magic Silk" was good, but not amazing. The singers were very very good though. The comedian was kind of funny but once again, geared toward the older crowd. The ventriloquist was painful and I wish I hadn't gone.There were many more events that we participated in or didn't get to do but you should be able to find at least one thing that is interesting to you.
Service on board was great. Everyone was nice and friendly. They were happy to see you and help you. We loved our dining staff and room steward. The only gripe I have about this is that any request we had that had been easily accommodated on other Princess ships (or other cruise lines) seemed to be met with some resistance or flat out refusal. I've gotten strawberry pina coladas on other cruise ships but it was VERY hard to get that to happen on the Royal. On our last cruise on the Caribbean Princess, we ordered appetizer sized entrees so that we could try more things. We were told that was not possible anymore. So we just ordered multiple entrees and it seemed to be kind of annoying to our wait staff. Also, our requests for virgin drinks that weren't on the menu were not possible, but I mean... why not? Other people make them. Little things like that were odd to me.
The food was very good. We usually ate in the dining room for breakfast and dinner because we felt the food was better. I think the best things on the menu there were the meats. They were perfectly cooked and tender. The sides were kind of sad and dull. My favorite dessert was the Love Boat, my mom got the creme brule every night, dad always got two shrimp cocktails for an appetizer, and my brother would faithfully get the fettuccine along with any other entrees he desired. We seemed to gravitate towards the menu options that were always available. Perhaps that's why they are always available, everyone always loves them! They were also very good to the three people in our family that have celiac disease. They would pre-order their food the day before and this way they got many options of things that were gluten free. Overall the food seemed very European and I really wanted some more tried and true American favorites as well.
The Horizon Court buffet was just ok. It didn't have as much variety as I have seen on other ships. It was kind of sad. The actual room and serving area is very nice and large, clean, and has lots of space to walk around people so it's not crowded. The waffles at breakfast were my favorite, the cookies were good but it was hit and miss on the softness (hard cookies are an abomination!).
Trident's Grill was yummy and those burgers hit the spot. I'm not sure why, but it was very delicious to me. They tasted exactly the same as the ones from the dining room.
Swirls was a regular eating place and the ice cream wasn't too watery. Win! Plus, you could add some sprinkles and make your cone extra fun.
Alfredo's had great italian style pizza. I was underwhelmed by the calzone and salad and wished there were more options, but overall I really liked the flavors of the pizzas I got there.
Princess Cays (It's pronounced KEYS)- Such a great beach day. We stepped outside the norm and did an excursion there. We did the Sting Ray Beach Encounter and were thrilled. It's not quite as great as Sting Ray City in Caman Islands but it was great for first timers and felt very personal. The staff was awesome and those sting rays just LOVED us. They were like cats brushing up against our legs and wanting us to pet them. Princess Cays has added shade for the line to the tenders (YAAAAAAYY!!!), and food trucks on the south side of the island. The shade rocked, I was thrilled. The food trucks were ok but lots of flies were around trying to land on the food so it was kind of gross. The water was colder than the last time we were there but it was bearable. We enjoyed a game of beach volleyball and headed back to the ship when it was 3:45 (leaving at 4). It was also nice that they had larger "tenders" to transport people than the last time we were there. This made the lines go faster and the ride more comfortable.
St. Thomas- We booked a charter on our own and it was awesome to act like "locals" for the day. We snorkeled, and it was ok but not great. We ate at the Pizza Boat, had hermit crab races at Happy Island, held a sea urchin, swam around, and just enjoyed the sun. The port does still seem very damaged from the recent hurricane, but operational. We really enjoyed St. Thomas and think it will be even better in the future as the keep recovering.
Martinique- We were bummed at first about Martinique because our scheduled port was Dominica but it was so destroyed by the hurricane that it had to be changed. It turned out that Martinique was our favorite island. It is beautiful and well taken care of. It feels very quaint and European. On Martinique we just did a foot tour of Fort-de-France on our own (very easy, don't pay to do it). We also booked a private excursion to do a Jet Ski tour of the southern part of the island down to Le Diamant. It was sooo fun but got super choppy by Le Diamant. It isn't for the inexperienced jet skiier. The beaches were great and the people were nice. They all speak French so the communication was a bit tough but kind of exciting.
Grenada- We just took a taxi to Grand Anse beach and called it a beach day since we didn't have much time. It was cheaper than booking the excursion through the ship. We also did some tubing in the bay on a whim. People are nice but lots of people trying to pedal you things. We bought because it seemed they needed money more than we did. Who knows. The beach was beautiful and covered in white sandy beaches shaded by Sea Almond trees. Access to the beach was free so our only cost was just the taxi and things we purchased there. Wish we had more time here!
Bonaire- Another private tour here. We booked a snorkel tour through the Woodwind. It was highly recommended and everything lived up to the hype. The snorkeling here was incredible and we found ourselves won over by the people and beautiful reefs in Bonaire. We formed great friendships and we would do the same tour again if we could.
Curacao- (pronounced Cure-a-sow like a female pig)- Two excursions here. We booked the Trolley tour of Willemstad through Princess and it was nice. The tour was interesting and the guide was great. Wish we could have gotten off more but still nice. We ate lunch back at the ship and then headed to the Sea Aquarium to swim with dolphins in at the Dolphin Academy. Now, this was an excursion offered through Princess but we saved a ton of money by just booking it ourselves. Almost half the price! Just book it yourself!
The Dolphin Academy was nice because the facility was really focused on taking good care of the dolphins. They are even allowed to swim out into the open ocean. We weren't able to do some things that you get to do at other dolphin swims like getting pulled by them, or getting a ride, but I think we were ok with that because it meant that they were really looking out for the well-being of the dolphins more than our wants. We had plenty of time to swim with them and pet them, etc. Overall Curacao was very DUSHI! (You find out it means "Sweet" when you get there.) We would definitely enjoy going there again.
WEATHER: Quick word on the weather, it was perfect! April was really a great idea. Forecast said partly cloudy or some rain but it only rained once on a sea day and once at Martinique for about 10 minutes on our whole 10 DAY cruise.
DISEMBARKATION: Disembarkation was a bit confusing but overall wasn't bad. Just some confusion on our part. We got off the ship fast and found our luggage fast. There was a line to get through customs that was long but moved quickly. I just wish we didn't have to lug our bags all the way through the line and outside to the curb. Wish it was more like the embarkation process where you just get your bags where you dropped them off at the curb.
OVERALL: We loved all the ports, we loved the ship, the staff was great! We have some qualms with Princess as a company but when we let those things go they didn't get in the way of us having an enjoyable time. Best family vacation yet!
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
BonaireThe Woodwind was an experience of a life time. The staff is incredible. They get you situated on the boat while serving drinks and snacks. They fit you specifically to their large inventory of snorkel gear, skins, and fins. They even have prescription goggles. The prep took a while but was worth it once you got in. We were divided into three small groups of 8 and since we were already a group of 8, it was like having a private tour.View All 12,792 Bonaire Cruise Port Reviews
We did a float snorkel of Klein Bonaire in two different places. It was like jumping into an aquarium! So many beautiful fish and corals. It took my breath away because I wasn't expecting that. The staff were great to tell us what a fish was that they saw and dive down to point it out to us. We saw two sea turtles too!
At the second snorkel spot, our guide even took my down syndrome sister along with her and made sure that she could keep up and get to see all the fish.
Once we got back on the boat they served us a delicious meal of Chinese/Dutch food and a yummy desert along with more drinks.
Alejandro was there to take pictures the whole time and once we saw the pictures we were so glad. He was excellent and well worth purchasing the pictures from him.
We made some great friends on this tour and Bonaire is very special to us now because of the awesome experience we had with the Woodwind.
View Cruise Critic's Bonaire Cruise Port Review
CuracaoWe booked this tour independently because the cost was at least half the price! We also found a discount code online that lowered it even more. We loved dolphin academy. They seem to really care about the dolphins and we had a great experience there. My sister had dreamed of doing this her whole life and just seeing the joy on her face made it a great experience for everyone. We had more time with the dolphins than I thought we would have and got to just slow down and enjoy swimming with them.View All 12,792 Curacao Cruise Port Reviews
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Trolley TourThe trolley tour was great! The city is beautiful and our tour guide was "dushi" and gave us good information. We only wished we could have gotten off a bit more an explored or gotten to take pictures and sitting in the front car gave me a bit of a headache from all the exhaust. Other than that, it was worth it!View All 32 Trolley Tour Reviews
GrenadaWe just took a taxi to Grand Anse beach. We entered at the Alamanda Hotel and the taxi driver arranged to be back to pick us up. Beach entrance was free but there were beach chairs and wifi there for a fee. Bathrooms do cost too so... go before you come or in the ocean.View All 633 Grenada Cruise Port Reviews
The beaches were sandy white and beautiful, clear, warm water. The beach didn't have lots of palms where we were, but Sea Almond trees that looked really cool and provided a lot of shade. Lots of locals pedaling goods on the beach but we didn't mind too much and even bought some things.
We didn't have a lot of time but we enjoyed swimming in the ocean and soaking up some sunshine on the beach for a few hours. We would love to have more time in Grenada in the future.
View Cruise Critic's Grenada Cruise Port Review
MartiniqueBefore heading out on our tour we just walked around Fort-de-France on our own. No need for a tour guide or taxi and it was free.View All 12,792 Martinique Cruise Port Reviews
We were a little late for the Jet Ski tour. The ferry took over an hour to get from Fort-de-France to Anse Mittan. We thought it would only take half an hour.
The jet ski tour was so fun. We loved seeing all the little villages right on the beautiful beaches. The tour guide pointed out a few turtles but I didn't get to see them in time. We are a jet-skiing family, so this was really fun for us. The water started to get pretty rough when we hit the Atlantic Ocean near Le Diamant. Even as an experienced driver, it made me a little nervous. It was smooth sailing again once we hit the Caribbean Sea. We enjoyed this tour immensely. Some people in our family voted this one their favorite.
View Cruise Critic's Martinique Cruise Port Review
Princess CaysThis is a new excursion so we thought we would take a chance and do it. It was really fun! The staff is awesome and happy to be there. We put on water shoes, life jackets, and snorkel gear. They have you wade out into a little cove right by the information booth that is fenced off. You can snorkel for a few minutes with the sting rays or just stand in the water and let them come up and brush against you. After a while we formed a circle in the shallow water and each fed a sting ray. Then they had us form a circle while sitting or kneeling in the very shallow water while the sting rays circled around us and over us. We pet them and held them. The experience was different than Stingray City at Cayman Islands. The sting rays are a bit smaller and I believe enclosed. They all have names and act more like pets. The experience felt more personal and individualized than it did in Sting Ray city. I think this is an awesome sting ray encounter for beginners because they can just sit on the shore and still experience the rays. It's also fun for the more experienced because of more one-on-one time with the rays. In Caman Islands the Princess excursion didn't let us take our own pictures with the rays, here they let us take all the pictures and video we wanted and that was relieving and made for some awesome family memories.View All 12,792 Princess Cays Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Princess Cays Cruise Port Review
St. ThomasWe loved Spencer, our tour guide. He was more of just an awesome friend that was hanging out with us for the day. The snorkeling was ok, but we know things are a bit different since the Hurricane. We enjoyed seeing the sunken tug boat, Turtle Cove, the Pizza Pi Boat, hermit crab racing at Happy Island, and swimming around there as well. It was like being a local for the day. Just filling up our boat with gas and away we went! Where ever we wanted to go and enjoy!View All 12,792 St. Thomas Cruise Port Reviews
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