We were invited by Princess UK to visit Royal Princess with a number of fellow cruise and travel bloggers while she was docked in Southampton.
We remember being part of the excitement of the launch of this first Princess Royal-class ship five years ago in 2013 and going on the 2 night preview cruise just after she was christened by the Duchess of Cambridge. We have also cruised on her sister ships – Regal Princess and Majestic Princess. So this was a chance to visit parts of the ship we wouldn’t normally get to see and provide a detailed guide on what is available on Royal-class ships.
Royal Princess can be classed as a larger ship. It weighs 142,229 tons and is 1,083 feet long, 217 feet high and 155 feet wide. It has 19 decks and carries 3,560 passengers.
Signature Design Features
The first part of Royal Princess you usually encounter after boarding is the huge gold and marble decorated Piazza which still takes your breath away.
The Piazza spans three decks and is a vision of gilt-edged balconies and stunning spiral staircases. It is twice the size of the ones on other Princess ships – the bars, restaurants and shops that surround it help make it the heart of the ship.
Zumba or dance classes are often held here in the morning and later on there might be musicians playing – it’s a great spot to sit and relax with a coffee from the nearby International Café. In the evenings there are performances from live bands often with dancing on the central marble floor – great for people-watching with an after-dinner cocktail!.
The SeaWalk is another design highlight offering unique views over the ocean – if you are brave enough to walk on it! This 60 feet long glass walkway, extends 128 feet above the waves and 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship. It is reassuring to know that the glass is 1.1 inches thick which is 4 times greater than the average car windshield.
Royal Princess has a wide choice of stateroom types depending on your preferences and budget. These range from Interior, Balcony and Deluxe Balcony staterooms to Mini-Suites and full Suites. There are also wheelchair-accessible staterooms, connecting staterooms for families/groups and staterooms that will take up to four passengers.
Standard balcony rooms have a large queen bed that can be set up as twin beds, a bathroom with a basin, toilet and a shower (with curtain), a walk-in wardrobe, a safe, fridge, hair dryer and a desk with drawers for extra storage. The rooms are decorated in contemporary and rich finishes and accented with soft, soothing colours.
Royal Princess is the first Princess ship to offer a stateroom category -the Deluxe Balcony. These are slightly larger to accomodate a small sofabed and include upgraded bathroom accessories – the bathroom itself is the same size as a standard stateroom.
Other stateroom types are shown below. With the exception of accessible staterooms, all Mini-Suites and Suites have both showers and bathtubs.
The standard balconies are deep enough for two chairs and a small table. For larger balconies, check out:
- the extended angled selection mid-ship under the SeaWalk or SeaView bar (be aware the higher deck balconies may be overlooked).
- the Deluxe Balconies on Emerald Deck forward where the only obstruction is a metal balcony panel.
- the Penthouse Suites on Riviera Deck.
- the selection of Premium, Deluxe and Corner Balconies in the aft and forward facing areas.
All staterooms have in-room televisions which include on-demand movies, TV show episodes and a choice of live news and sports channels. We loved the addition of an option to pause a movie and start it up later just where you left off.
We have stayed in a number of standard Balcony staterooms, a Deluxe Balcony and a Mini-Suite on Royal-class ships but must admit to enjoying the extra space in a Mini-Suite, with the separate lounge area and larger bathroom.
On port days, most passengers get off the ship to go on excursions or make their own arrangements but there is plenty to do on sea days to keep you occupied. The daily Princess Patter includes a vast array of activities such as lectures, classes, trivia, bingo, wine tasting sessions and audience-participation games. Or you could just choose to relax on a lounger or in a hot tub.
The main pool area can get really busy especially on sunny days. It includes two fresh water pools with an island area between them and plenty of loungers.
The large Movie Under The Stars screen shows movies or concerts during the day as well as at night.
On Deck 17, there is the more serene Retreat Pool area which includes a pool, two hot tubs and a number of Retreat Cabanas that can be reserved. The Retreat Pool is open to all adults while Cabana rental is available from $50 for a half day.
Adjacent to this is The Sanctuary. – an exclusive sun deck at sea that aims to provide a unique oasis of tranquility with superb views from the front of the ship. Passengers can relax on luxurious padded lounge chairs or circular daybeds while Serenity Stewards provide healthy refreshments and music players with peaceful music.
Private Sanctuary Cabanas can be hired for a more luxurious experience, plus two Lotus Spa Cabanas are available for private spa treatments.
Space in the Sanctuary can be reserved on a first-come first-served basis for $20 for a half day/$40 for a full day, per person. Cabanas are available beginning at $80 for a half day.
For those passengers who wish to keep in shape, there is an outdoor jogging track, a fitness centre, an aerobics studio and the Princess Sports Central court which can be used for basketball, tennis, volleyball and badminton. There’s even a miniature putting green, a golf driving cage and ping pong tables.
For pampering and rejuvenation, the Lotus Spa on Deck 5 offers facials, scrubs, massages, body wraps and acupuncture. The salon has an extensive menu of hair, nail, and beauty treatments and there is also a barbershop for men. In two private Couples Villas, couples can enjoy treatments alongside each other with a hot tub, champagne and soothing music.
We were very impressed with the Enclave – a stunning thermal suite with a cascading rain shower, hydrotherapy pool, heated loungers, and sensory showers. Enclave passes are sold on a first-come first-served basis – $39 for one day but it works out at about $20 per person per day if you buy a pass that covers the whole cruise.
Royal Princess offers great facilities for families, with free Camp Discovery kids clubs for toddlers to teenagers with tailored club rooms and even outdoor areas.
Princess also provides a late-night sitting service for 3 to 12 year olds at a charge of $5.00 per hour per child.
There is a wide array of evening entertainment provided across all the venues on Royal Princess.
The Princess Theatre is large and impressive with seating for 925 passengers where each seat has an unobstructed view of the stage.
During the ship visit, we were fortunate enough to be shown the backstage area which covers 3 levels including dressing rooms and a fascinating mechanised wardrobe delivery system. This included all the costumes and props fot the musical production of The Secret Silk, written by the creator of Wicked and Godspell, Stephen Schwartz. The Secret Silk is based on an Asian folk story of a young woman who secretly creates brilliant silk fabrics and features amazing life-size puppets made by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
Each Royal Princess cruise also includes a varied programme of other shows featuring singers, magicians, comedians in the theatre.
Princess Live! is a live television studio that is set up like a talk show. Passengers can be a part of the studio audience and it’s used as a venue for trivia, fun game shows and karaoke. Some of the shows are recorded so you can watch them on your stateroom TV from the following day.
Other evening entertainment venues are the Vista Lounge (for trivia and live music performances), Club 6 (for the late night disco) and the Piazza (for live bands, dancing, the Champagne Waterfall and the Balloon Drop)
Crooners Bar and the Wheelhouse Bar also have live musicians or small bands playing each evening.
For passengers who enjoy gambling, the Casino on Royal Princess offers a wide range of slot machines and table games from blackjack to Texas Hold’Em and roulette. It also holds regular slot tournaments.
Movies Under The Stars on Deck 16 and 17 is where a movie, concert or live sport event is played out on the giant screen. Passengers can snuggle under a fleece blanket in the comfortable lounger and snack on complimentary fresh-popped popcorn. Some movies will be fairly recent releases – if you miss one then it will appear on-demand for you to watch on your stateroom TV the following day.
Look out for the evenings where the island area of the Fountain Pool becomes a stage and features dancing fountains using a sophisticated lighting and sound system. The computerised fountain features 85 water jets which shoot streams of water 33 feet high into the sky in time to the music.
Dress for most evenings on Royal Princess is smart casual with formal nights scheduled depending on the length of the cruise (1 for 5-6 nights, 2 for 7-13 nights and so on) . But if you don’t want to dress formally then there are a few more dining alternatives on Royal Princess where you won’t feel out of place.
There are three complimentary main dining rooms providing waiter service which share the same daily dinner menu. The Allegro Dining Room has Traditional Dining at set times of 6pm and 8:15pm with the same table and waiters each night. Concerto and Symphony are Anytime Dining rooms and are open from 5:30 pm to 10.pm. Concerto is also open for breakfast (8 to 9:30 am.) and lunch (noon to 1:30 pm) every day.
Note that a typical dinner menu will offer vegetarian and suitable items for those with dietary restrictions – special requests can also be made advance with the Maitre d’Hôtel. We have always found the main dining room food to be excellent.
The dining rooms have plenty of tables for two and four for more intimate dining as well as larger tables for eight or more. Note that, at busy times for Anytime Dining, you may be encouraged to dine at a shared table with other passengers. We often choose to do this and have made some good friends along the way.
For more casual dining, the self-service buffet on Royal Princess is a revelation – twice the size of those on previous Princess ships. This means there is plenty of choice and minimal queues in the Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro on Deck 16.
There is seating for 900 passengers indoors and 350 outdoors with a wider variety of tables and chairs. Note that there is waiter service for drinks.
The Horizon Bistro is a smaller space with themed food and made-to-order sandwiches. Within the Bistro there is also a free Pastry Shop with fresh-baked goodies provided throughout the day – check out the delicious cookies!
Deck 16 is also home to other complimentary food venues – around the Fountain Pool there is Trident Grill for burgers and hot dogs (with additional smokehouse-style barbecue options in the evening), Prego – for slices of pizza – and Swirls for soft-serve ice cream. And at the back of the ship, at the Outrigger Bar, chips and salsa are available to accompany your margarita.
Our go-to place for complimentary snacks and desserts is the International Café, on Deck 5 beside the Piazza. This has an amazing selection which changes throughout the day, from doughnuts, pastries and an egg, cheese and bacon muffin at breakfast to salads, soup, pies, grilled sandwiches and chilled desserts later on. It’s the only food venue on the ship that is open 24 hours a day.
Without doubt, the ‘Best Pizza at Sea’ can be found at Alfredo’s which serves complimentary hand-tossed pizzas from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m on Deck 6. Royal Princess offers an expanded menu with salad, a soup, pasta and two desserts alongside the pizzas and calzone- the veal pasta pockets are divine! Alfredo’s often seems like the best kept secret as it takes a while for new passengers to realise you can eat here for free.
As with other Princess ships, there is a complimentary tapas served in the wine bar Vines on Deck 5, a Pub Lunch served in the Crown Grill on Deck 7 usually on sea days, Afternoon Tea served daily in the Concerto dining room from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m and Room Service offered 24 hours a day.
For special occasions, you can pay a little bit extra for the speciality restaurants on Royal Princess.
Sabatini’s serves dishes that include pasta, seafood and specialities from Northern Italy. This onboard Italian Trattoria has an extensive menu of tempting dishes such as Spaghetti allo Scoglio, Braised Short Rib over Penne and Tris d’Aragosta (Lobster Three Ways). It’s also open for lunch.
The Crown Grill is the onboard steakhouse offering an intimate dining experience in a classically elegant setting with an open kitchen. The mouth-watering menu includes cooked-to-order top-quality steaks, chops and seafood. We recommend eating here – the steaks are truly wonderful!
Both restaurants are open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., cost $29 per person and can be booked in advance on your cruise personaliser.
For the ultimate dining experience, you can book Chef’s Table Lumiere within the Allegro Dining Room with a cover charge of $115. Guests are treated to a behind-the-scenes galley tour with champagne and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a multi-course gourmet dinner created and hosted by the ship’s executive chef. A “curtain of light,” surrounds the diners to create a private, softly lit space in the centre of the main dining room.
The Wine Maker’s Dinner is also offered in new private dining spaces in the Symphony and Concerto dining rooms for $40 per person. Surrounded by wine bottles, the circular areas are inspired by wine cellars and seat up to 12 people. Guests can enjoy special menus developed with winemakers and paired with wines.
A new venue is the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar, which serves sushi, sashimi, ceviche and caviar, which range from $4.50 for two pieces of sushi to $70 for an ounce of caviar. You also get a complimentary dish, such as edamame or wakame, with each drink.
The Crab Shack pop up is provided within the Horizon Court buffet and offers a tasty menu of Bayou-style boiled crawfish and spicy sausage, popcorn shrimp, clam chowder and a mixed steamer pot filled with snow crab, jumbo shrimp, clams and mussels. The Crab Shack costs $29 per adult and $14.50 per child younger than 12.
New for Royal Princess is Gelato, on Deck 5 which serves delicious ice cream, sundaes, crepes, fruit smoothies, shakes and homemade waffle ice cream cones. Prices start at $2.75 for three scoops and range up to $6.50 for an alcoholic sundae.
Also new on Royal Princess is the Royal Afternoon Tea which is held in the Piazza and limited to approximately 24 guests. It costs $10 per person or $20 with champagne. Finger sandwiches and scones are served on a tiered cake stand with fresh berries on each table with a choice of three herbal and specially brewed teas.
There are plenty of bars to enjoy a drink on Royal Princess – the Retreat Pool bar forward on Deck 17; the scenic SeaView Bar and Mermaids Tail around the main pool deck on Deck 16, our favourite daytime bar – the aft-facing Outrigger Bar – at the back of the Horizon Court also on Deck 16; The Wheelhouse Bar, the Princess Live! Café and Crooners on Deck 7; Bellini’s, the Casino Bar and Club 6 Bar on Deck 6 and the Piazza Bar and Vines Wine Bar on Deck 5.
Royal Princess is sailing around the British Isles this summer until September before returning to the Caribbean for the winter season. Next year, she will be the first Royal-class ship to sail the west coast of America and Alaska. We have already booked to cruise on her again as she repositions from Los Angeles to Vancouver with an overnight in San Francisco!
The ship visit was a wonderful day – thank you Princess UK for inviting us. Royal Princess is still as beautiful as we remembered and we can’t wait to cruise on her again!
For great video footage of the ship on the day, please check out:
Royal Princess Ship Tour from Holidays at Sea
Royal Princess Ship and Cabins Tour from Honest Cruising
Royal Princess Ship Tour in 4K from visitwith.us
We have just received our first ever nomination at the Wave Awards for our cruise blog – we would appreciate your vote for Favourite Cruise Blogger of the Year – Sandra and Chris (Brits On A Ship)