In March/April this year, we were excited to be amongst the first to try the brand new Majestic Princess, aware that it had been designed for the Chinese market. We had previously sailed on 7 Princess cruises, on 4 different Royal and Grand class ships.
Embarkation from Trieste was a dream – we had flown from London to Venice the day before and were given a hotel room directly opposite where the Majestic Princess would dock after her short journey from the shipyard. Our balcony was the perfect place to sit and watch her arrive in the sunset.
Sounding the Love Boat horns:
And a timelapse of her arrival:
The next day we just crossed the road and took 20 minutes to board.
The sailaway was fantastic with the ship’s horns playing the Love Boat theme again and again, daytime fireworks and crowds of townspeople waving us off.
The ship itself looked beautiful with the new Princess hull art and everything gleaming, particularly the unique blue chandelier in the Piazza.
Other immediate differences was the signage in both English and Chinese and the Chinese flower hallway carpets – blue for port and red for starboard.
The cabins had 1 Chinese socket, 2 European, 2 US and 2 USB ports. The standard balcony bathroom size seemed smaller in front of the basins and the toilet roll holders placed under the basin next to the door. The new mattresses and pillows were very comfortable. Otherwise the cabin and balcony was much the same as the same class cabins on the Regal or Royal Princess.
We did notice some larger balcones on Dolphin deck that were new on Royal Class ships – these are partially overlooked by the balconies above.
Our Muster drill was held in the Vista Gaming Lounge which had a number of mahjong tables installed at the back of the room. We went up to visit the Wake View Bar and were disappointed that comfortable furniture had not been provided like on the Regal/Royal. This was usually a great place to relax during the day and watch the wake.
The deck above was filled with exercise equipment which seemed strange and a waste of a great view. There is also no walking/running track on deck 18 unlike the other Royal Class ships.
The most comfortable place we found on the ship was in the Hollywood Conservatory – a fantastic area fully of topiary, musical instruments and wonderful views (not a typical Sanctuary).
This was next to the new (to Royal Class) covered indoor pool called the Hollywood Pool Club. This popular pool was supposed to be adults only (not always the case on the preview cruise).
The main dining room, Alfredos Pizzeria and International Café were up to their usual good standards. We tried the new Harmony Chinese speciality restaurant and loved the ambience and most of the dishes we selected.
The Peking Duck Salad was particularly delicious!
The new French Bistro was called La Mer and overlooked the Piazza. We looked at the menu and decided it wasn’t for us.
The new Chinese Noodle bar on the Lido deck was offering 3 different options that day – Chicken Noodle, Pork Noodle and some kind of vegetable soup. All complimentary and cooked to order – they take your name but it was delivered to your table. We had the chicken and it was very good. Various soy sauces, chili sauce and condiments to select from and you get a napkin with two chopsticks and a spoon.
The Lobster and Dim Sum bar was also open for business. However these are at a charge. $24 for a whole lobster, $18 for Salt and Pepper Lobster and $18 for Kung Pao Lobster and $6 for various dim sum dishes. I chose the Salt and Pepper Lobster and it was cooked to order and delivered to our table. It had half a dozen tempura covered Lobster pieces, tempura green beans, tempura aubergine pieces (eggplant), 3 slices of corn on the cob, fries and creamy coleslaw on the side. There is quite a lot of lobster meat but not sure I would pay $18 again.
The bar also offered complimentary hot dogs, burgers and fries.
The biggest disappointment for us was the World Fresh Marketplace which replaced the Horizon Court buffet – we felt it lacked the same range of dishes as on the Regal/Royal for lunch and dinner and catered more for Chinese tastes. The breakfast offerings were still amazing however. So we tended to eat lunch in the International Cafe and dinner in the Main Dining Room or Alfredos. There was no British pub lunch provided on our cruise but it was introduced on later cruises. For us, Afternoon Tea seemed to be offered more than usual and was very tasty.
The bar service was pretty good. Some new Chinese staff had initial problems understanding your order but this soon passed. There are less bars on the promenade deck now so we found the Crown Bar was very busy in the evenings and sometimes had to wait for our orders. I am proud to say I ordered the first ever Pina Colada in the Crown Bar on the Majestic Princess.
A new departure was the Juice bar overlooking the Piazza – I came to look forward to the Mango Blend smoothie as a cooling refreshing treat.
We also tried one of the Gong Cha teas from the new Leaves bar outside Princess Live!
Perry was a wonderful member of the bar staff here – always remembered our names and always smiling.
We attended trivia, games shows and karaoke evenings and the assistant cruise director staff were fantastic especially Duvaul and Natalie. Plus enjoyed The Unexpected Boys in the Piazza and watched a few songs from the Tenors of Rock in the theatre. It is possible to hire a Sing on the Sing Karaoke room – we booked it for 2 hours which cost just over $100 for 4 of us. 1 free drink each for each hour and with some fruit on a plate but it was a lot of fun.
We tried out the Hollywood Pool club as it was used for the night club but it had no comfortable seating which was a drawback. It appears that the night club was moved down to the Piazza on later sailings. We walked through the Casino a couple of times, and there were differences, but not enough to make us stop and spend money. One thing to note is that the Library and Internet Cafe are combined on deck 7 aft and there are only two internet computers. More upscale shops have been added and the stock of existing shops changed to cater for the Chinese market – we were disappointed that they didn’t carry our usual perfumes and aftershaves that the other Princess ships offered. The Photo Gallery has lots of new screens available which use facial recognition to find your photos when you scan your cruise card (and agree to use the technology). It worked fine for us but a family we spoke to said they had random photos of other passengers included in their collection!
Kotor was the only port and was gorgeous. We got a late tender in and wandered around the Old Town. There were magnificent views from the ship especially when coming out the bay.
We were on a B2B so stayed on the ship but disembarkation from Rome was a breeze with a smooth Princess transfer to the airport.
There were very few issues for a shakedown cruise – some ingredients didn’t make it on board for the bars and restaurants and the laundromats were never operational. There were also VIPs and over 200 UK travel agents on board which meant it was hard to get a reservation in the speciality restaurants for the first couple of days. On the other hand. we bumped into Carnival CEO Arnold Donald in the Crown Bar a couple of times – Chris was so starstruck he went over to say hello and shake his hand. That last chair with it’s back to the Library has been referred to (by us) as The Arnold Donald Chair ever since.
We would gladly cruise again on Majestic Princess, despite the differences. To us, it’s more about the people you meet. The staff were so attentive and friendly – you simply adjust to suit the ship.