Editor's Note: During a September 2016 drydock, Royal Princess became the first ship in the fleet to receive the line's new livery design. Other upgrades, mostly routine, included the addition of a midship staircase and new Princess Luxury Beds, developed by board certified sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus and HGTV Designer Candice Olson, to all cabins.
Princess Cruises doesn't set out to dazzle with gimmickry (no bumper cars at sea, ropes courses or simulated surf pools for this Princess), and it's never wanted (or needed) to. The line opts for a more traditional style of cruising, even as it does occasionally push the bounds in terms of innovation. It's certainly come up with some great ideas -- Movies Under The Stars, the adults-only Sanctuary and the transformation of a functional ship's atrium into the buzzing Piazza -- that are now widely copied by other lines.
Arguably, what Princess does better than any other mainstream cruise line is embrace innovations and enfold them into an otherwise traditionally minded cruise experience. Royal Princess is no exception. Here, the Piazza has been significantly expanded, Movies Under the Stars is the biggest in the fleet, and the Youth Center has some exciting new features, including a private, outdoor sun deck for teens. New twists onboard Royal Princess include the SeaWalk, a walkway that hangs off one side of the ship 16 decks up and offers vertigo-inducing views through strengthened glass. On the pool deck, a magical fountain -- between the main pool and the upgraded Movies Under the Stars screen -- does a Vegas-like water and light show at night. And there's Princess Live!, the first television studio in cruising, featuring with audience seating and participation.
A renewed focus on food means that, of the 16 eateries, several are new, including the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar, Pastry Shop and Gelato parlor, as well as pop-up restaurants Crab Shack and the Fondue Dispensary in the Horizon Court buffet area. Old favorites get new twists, including the expanded Alfredo's, the line's stand-out pizzeria, with a few menu additions and a lot more seats.
Tradition is honored, as well: one dining room is dedicated to set-seating, cocktail lounges have an elegant ambience, lovely classical music performances are mixed in with jazzier tunes, and afternoon tea is still a staple.
One aspect where Royal Princess does fall down is cabin sizes, which, in certain cases, come in significantly smaller than those found on Grand Princess. It's particularly noticeable with the balconies, which are tiny -- barely enough space for two chairs and a table.
You could argue that Princess is merely "playing it safe" with Royal Princess and trying to please everyone, but as a prototype -- cruise industry parlance for a new design, rather than the "third ship in a series of" -- the first impression is a simple one. Royal might represent an evolution for Princess, but it's still offering an experience that will feel familiar to fans.
On Royal Princess, cabins have gotten a makeover from the Grand Class ships, and we're not necessarily sure it's a move in the right direction. The biggest change: Princess has eliminated the Dolphin Deck's dedicated mini-suites (with the famously controversial -- but large -- jutting-out balconies). Now cabins of all categories are scattered through stateroom decks. Other changes include a noticeable reduction in the size of balconies (from standards to mini-suites), and all categories, save for suites, are smaller than those found on the Grand Class vessels.
There are improvements, however. Royal Princess' cabins offer a number of updated features inspired by suggestions from the line's passengers. Among them are more contemporary decor, larger showers and hand-held showerheads. Sinks are square to provide more vanity space, mirrors feature built-in vanity lighting, and beds have pillow-top mattresses and upholstered headboards. Bigger television screens offer Princess' first interactive system, and energy-efficient lighting with card readers helps conserve electricity.
Some amenities have also been added to make traveling with technology easier. Electrical sockets have been spaced farther apart to accommodate multiple plugs, and cabins now offer sockets to fit American appliances, as well as European (but not British) plugs.
The 1,780 cabins fall into five different grades: 36 Suites, which are made up of Owner's Suites (14), Penthouse Suites (14) and Premium Suites (8), of which one is accessible; 314 Mini Suites (6 are accessible); 358 Deluxe Balcony (none accessible); 730 Standard Balcony cabins (22 accessible); and 342 Inside cabins (7 accessible).
Fifty adjoining cabins are available for large families needing more than one cabin, which is the most on any Princess vessel.
Inside cabins come in at 161 square feet, which is fairly standard for Princess. The accessible cabins are a generous 240 square feet. Each inside cabin has either two twin beds or one queen and all the usual amenities, such as a flat-screen television, small desk, in-room safe, direct dial telephone, a small armchair and a small fridge. Bathrooms are shower-only. Basic toiletries (shampoo and shower gel) are located in the shower.
Standard balcony cabins are 222 square feet (181-square-foot cabins with 41-square-foot balconies), which is significantly smaller than what's found on Grand Princess (214 square feet inside, 257 total with balcony). They include all the features of an inside cabin, plus quite spacious closets. Private verandahs are each outfitted with two mesh chairs and a cocktail table.
A new stateroom category, the Deluxe Balcony cabin is only deluxe if you compare it with the standard balconies. These new cabins are pleasant but small. They come in at 233 square feet (192 square feet inside, 41-square-foot balcony) and include some of the upgrades found in a Mini-Suite stateroom, including enhanced bathroom amenities (lotion in addition to the pumps of shower gel and shampoo), waffle bathrobes (you must request them, however) and upgraded duvets, but the only real difference is a couple of extra feet in each stateroom for a loveseat. They each have a decent-sized space for hanging clothes, but the shower-only bathroom, along with those found in the lower-category cabins, is ridiculously cramped for a modern cruise ship -- and it's got the dreaded clingy shower curtain. Its balcony layout is identical to that of the standard verandah staterooms.
Mini-Suite cabins measure 299 square feet each (258 square feet inside, 41-square-foot balcony) and have been redesigned to be smaller than those on the Grand Class ships. The decor is more contemporary, though. One big improvement: A curtain, which can be drawn closed, has been added to separate living and sleeping areas. Mini-suites get the same general stateroom amenities, as well as decorative central lighting fixtures, marble-topped counters and two flat-screen TV's instead of one. The biggest disappointment with mini-suites? They get the same tiny, narrow balconies as standard staterooms, with the same furnishings.
There are three styles of suite accommodations on Royal Princess. Owners Suites are the largest and range in size from 576 square feet to 705 square feet. Each features separate living and sleeping rooms, a refrigerator, an extra-wide balcony with upgraded furnishings, a bath with separate shower and tub, and a powder room. These are corner cabins, so balconies wrap around two sides of the ship.
Penthouse suites (440 square feet, with balcony) also feature separate sleeping and living spaces, a full bath and a powder room. The plus is that these are located adjacent to the new-to-Princess Concierge Lounge. The minus? Despite attractive wooden balcony furnishings, the verandahs aren't very big.
Premium suites (554 square feet, with balcony) are located all the way forward, though, oddly, there is no view out of the front of the ship -- just to the side. The Premium suites are the exact same layout as Penthouse suites, and they enjoy the same features with slightly larger balconies and indoor space.
Each suite, regardless of category, features a 42-inch television, a bathroom with two sinks, a separate bath and shower with both hand-held and fixed sprays, marble floors and countertops, special toiletries and accent lighting. Suite passengers also are entitled to a number of extras, including complimentary laundry and cleaning services, suite-only breakfast at Sabatini's and an extended in-cabin dining menu, as well as access to the Concierge Lounge.
A first for Royal Princess is the Concierge Lounge on Deck 14, beside the Wedding Chapel. It caters exclusively to suite passengers (which could be tricky if they all come at once -- it seats only 24 people) and serves a selection of hot and cold snacks and beverages that include wine (for a fee). There is limited space and no views, but it's a nice place to relax, read a magazine and have an aperitif before dinner.
The nice touch is that you can avoid traipsing down to Guest Services and having to deal with the endless lines there. A dedicated staffmember deals with queries on shore excursions, accounts, specialty dining and spa reservations.
There's a big emphasis on dining onboard Royal Princess, with a total of 16 places to eat. For the main dining room experience, Royal Princess offers "anytime" and "traditional" modes of evening dining in three different restaurant venues. Allegro offers set-seating and set-tablemates options (typically at 6 and 8:15 p.m.), while Symphony and Concerto are open seating (between 5:30 and 10 p.m.). All offer the same menu, with the most special menu items (lobster, beef wellington) occurring on formal nights.
Concerto is open for breakfast (8 to 9:30 a.m.) and lunch (noon to 1:30 p.m) every day.
All three MDR's offer vegetarian, heart-healthy and Lotus spa (lower in sodium, fat and cholesterol) menu items for those with dietary restrictions.
Generally, food and service were excellent at all meals. The restaurants have a nice range of table sizes, including plenty of two- and four-tops for more intimate dining, and also larger tables for groups of eight or more. One note, though: Those who opt for the open-seating venues at busy times may be encouraged to dine at large tables with other passengers, even if a smaller table is requested.
One of the biggest improvements on this ship is the Horizon Court buffet venue. The buffet area has double the number of seats found on Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess; Royal offers space for 900 indoors and 350 outdoors. It also offers a greater variety of table styles, including two-tops and "counter-height" bistro-style dining tables.
The buffet complex is broken up into two main spaces; the section closest to the Fountain Pool is designed to resemble a Parisian cafe, while the area closer to the aft has a contemporary vibe. An expansive space, the Horizon Court has a new action-station layout with food "venues" that include a taqueria, rotisserie, sandwich shop and Japanese hibachi grill. At night, the Horizon Court becomes the Horizon Bistro, offering an interactive experience with themed events and specialty dinners. On certain nights, passengers may find a Brazilian churrascaria, Argentine gaucho theme, German Beerfest, European bistro or British pub. There is no extra fee for themed events.
Princess is also debuting a pair of for-fee options in the buffet complex in a cordoned-off area on selected evenings. The Crab Shack is a fun spot that comes with mallets, bibs and buckets. Dishes include crawfish in a Bayou-style "Mud Bug" boil, spiced peel-and-eat shrimp or a mixed steamer pot filled with snow crab, jumbo shrimp, clams and mussels. The Fondue Dispensary offers a variety of cheese fondues like classic Swiss with white wine, German cheddar with beer and a French cheese with Champagne. Other Swiss, German and Austrian specialties round out the menu. Both are sit-down venues with table service, but neither has a set number of seats, as they are areas within the Horizon Court, rather than restaurants in themselves. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are recommended. Each has a $29 cover charge.
Also new: The Pastry Shop is a dedicated room for all types of fee-free desserts, including croissants, pastries, hot desserts, freshly baked waffles and French toast at breakfast; classic and modern desserts at lunch and dinner; tea sandwiches, cookies, desserts and waffles at tea time; and special show pieces and flambes in the evening. This completely separate space features its own unique decor and seating area, plus a dedicated specialty coffee section. Passengers even get to see pastry chefs in action as they demonstrate their skills in chocolate work and cake decorating. There are also pastries available elsewhere in the Horizon Court.
Chef's Table Lumiere is a new approach to Princess' pioneering Chef's Table concept, during which an executive chef cooks dinner and explains technique to an exclusive group of passengers (for a $95 fee, including wine). Royal Princess' version adds a "curtain of light," which surrounds the diners and creates a private, softly lit space in the center of the bustling main dining room. Additionally, the Wine Maker's Dinners will take place 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. Diners can enjoy specialty menus developed with winemakers and paired with wines. Menus include carved meats like crown of veal rack, lamb Baron and veal rack a l'Orlov. Bookings can be made at the Reception Desk.
Crown Grill, Princess' signature steak and chops house, and Sabatini's, its northern Italian restaurant, both return on Royal Princess. Both are open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and cost $29 per adult and $14.50 for children ages 3 to 12. With its signature theatre-style open kitchen, the Crown Grill has a menu of chops, seafood and premium sterling silver steaks. Sabatini's serves dishes that include pasta, seafood and Italian specialities. It's an elegant spot, with a centerpiece featuring a wine display. It's also open for lunch.
One significant change on Royal Princess is that both the Crown Grill and Sabatini's are paired with complementary lounges. The Wheelhouse Pub, a popular Princess lounge, featuring an ersatz British vibe, nautical theme and unobtrusive piano music, is coupled with the Crown Grill; the location also features a free daily pub lunch. Sabatini's is grouped with Vines, the ship's wine bar, together in one convenient area.
Alfredo's, a no-fee (except drinks), stone-oven pizzeria, was first introduced on Grand Princess after its 2011 refurbishment, and it makes an encore here, with expanded seating. The Neapolitan-style pizzeria offers traditional, hand-stretched pizza, along with antipasti and desserts, in an enclave just off The Piazza. It's fun for people watching, and the pizzas are marvelous.
Two other new venues are the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar, which is Princess' response to the increased demand for raw bars at sea. It 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. It's in a great spot on Deck 7 overlooking the whole Piazza. Gelato, on Deck 5, feels more like an American ice cream parlor than a traditional Italian-style gelateria; it serves ice cream, sundaes, sweet crespelle (Italian 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. This venue seats 35 people.
You'll find that The International Cafe -- a staple on most Princess ships -- has been expanded and is situated opposite Gelato, serving excellent (for fee) coffees ($1.25 to $3.75) 24/7 and a selection of delicious (free) pastries, quiche, hot breakfast sandwiches, freshly baked cookies, panini sandwiches, salads and desserts.
The Princess Live! Cafe offers excellent coffee and tea, as well as fresh juices and baked goods in the morning. Prices start at $1.25 for a regular coffee and go up to $3.75 for specialty coffees. After 5 p.m., the bar there offers up a selection of aperitifs and digestifs. The cafe's decor includes wall-mounted screens that show cruise-related information, as well as a stylish seating area with high-backed chairs and low tables.
Poolside, you'll find Swirls Ice Cream and Prego Pizzeria, which offers three types of greasy, grab-and-go pizza (compared with the lighter, more varied menu at sit-down Alfredo's). There's also the Trident Grill, which serves hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken sandwiches. At night, the Trident Grill is transformed into a traditional "smokehouse-style" barbecue, serving up plates of jumbo chicken wings, Route 66 beef chili, Texas-style BBQ brisket, Kansas City Sweet & Smoky Spare Ribs and North Carolina Pulled Pork. The Outrigger Bar on Deck 16 serves made-to-order burritos, crispy pork flautas, barbecued pork fajitas and fresh tortilla chips with guacamole and Mexican salsa at lunchtime. Its drink menu includes specialty margaritas and slushies; in the morning, it offers a Bloody Mary bar.
Afternoon tea is served daily in the Piazza and also in Concerto dining room from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Room service is offered 24 hours a day, with salads, sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers available, as is a continental breakfast via a door-hung card.
"Smart casual" is the way Princess prefers to label its general dress code, and passengers generally dress appropriately. Most cruises will have two formal nights; think lots of beaded gowns for the ladies and tuxes for the men, although cocktail dresses and dark suits are perfectly acceptable. No swimwear, jeans, tank tops or shorts are allowed in the restaurants at dinnertime.
Two absolutely new innovations in entertainment have debuted with Royal Princess. Princess Live!, located just aft of the Piazza on Deck 7, is the first television studio at sea. Three rows of tiered seats (with seating for 280 passengers) are flanked by a stage -- on which the cruise director hosts "The Wake Show," his daily David Letterman-esque talk show -- and a control booth. Princess Live! also is the site for game shows, Q&A sessions with ship's officers and staff, cooking demos, art house films, enrichment programs, and murder mystery and trivia games. Acoustic and smaller-scale performances by the ship's musicians and comedians also take place there. The great thing about this space is you can come in and out as you please and watch or participate at your leisure (if the shows allow participation).
Outdoors, in the Fountain Pool sun deck area, a raised stage between two pools is all-new to Princess and has various uses. During the day, it's an extra space for sun loungers or a place to try out dance moves with the ship's social staff. At night, the dancing fountain, an array of colored lights, water sprays and music, offers a marvelous and festive show (reminiscent, perhaps, of the water fountain at Las Vegas' Bellagio).
The Atrium (Piazza), another primary entertainment venue, has been expanded on Royal Princess and houses more cafes and lounges than ever before. It hosts everything from Cirque d' Soleil-style acrobatics to a morning Zumba class, and it's active throughout the day and evening.
In total, Royal Princess has 14 bars and pubs and one club (Club 6), many of them located around the central Piazza on Decks 5, 6 and 7. Watering holes include Vines, its wine bar; the new Bellini's, the best spot for people-watching; Crooners, a martini bar that hosts sing-alongs and a new dueling piano show; and the Ocean Seafood Bar, where you can sample tapas-sized portions of sushi, sashimi, ceviche and caviar, along with your drink. Other lounges around the ship include the ersatz British pub called the Wheelhouse and a Princess Live!-adjacent bar. Great outdoor venues for an alfresco drink include the SeaView Bar on Deck 16, which extends over the waves and offers dramatic views 16 floors down, and the lovely Outrigger Bar, located aft on the same deck, serving 12 specialty margaritas. The Retreat Pool also has its own bar.
Club 6 is Royal Princess' dance club, located on Deck 6 near the Atrium. Oddly, it doesn't have the look or feel of a disco and doesn't really work as one. With one small bar area and a tiny dance floor that would be uncomfortably crowded with more than 30 people, Club 6 seems more like a bar with loud music than a disco.
Churchill's cigar lounge is another poorly designed space: unwelcoming, too bright and devoid of atmosphere, character and ventilation, it's designed to put off even the hardiest smoker.
The Princess Theater is the largest of any ship in the fleet, seating 925 and offering uninterrupted sightlines from every vantage point. It employs new technology to enhance its shows, such as high-definition screens. Four new productions are debuting there: "Colors of the World," "Spectacular!," "Sweet Soul Music" and "What the World Needs Now."
Vista Lounge, at the aft of the ship, offers an alternative performance venue to the Princess Theater, hosting live bands, comedians and illusionists, plus themed parties and special events.
The Princess Casino has a selection of slots and table games, including blackjack, Texas Hold'em and roulette. Its main feature is a stunning spiral staircase, which leads up to Deck 7 and the onboard boutiques; an adjacent bar allows gamblers to grab drinks between games.
Royal Princess features the largest version of Princess' signature Movies Under the Stars poolside theater. The big screen shows a variety of movies and concerts, day and night. Filmgoers will be able to grab fleece blankets, fee-free fresh-popped popcorn, and cookies and milk.
If you don't fancy any of this and just want to hole up in your cabin, there's some good news for you: Princess has launched video on demand on Royal Princess, a new initiative for Princess that will ultimately roll out to the rest of the fleet. It's a fantastic in-cabin service with a ton of good choices (including music, flicks and TV series), and get this: none of them require an extra fee.
Royal Princess has an array of enrichment activities, which might include wine-tasting and food demos (in Princess Live!), ceramics classes, onboard lectures and singing in a choir. Of special note is a new wine-tasting at Sabatini's; the super Tuscan-themed event, costing $45 per person, includes a chance to sample five different Italian wines that are accompanied by tasting sizes of delicious food pairings.
Also new on Royal Princess is a self-guided Art & Architecture Tour, which takes passengers behind the scenes of the onboard art collection using their own tablet or smart phone. The 32-stop tour allows you to take in the 4,000-piece collection at your own pace.
You can tell when a line really cares about its younger passengers by the effort it puts into kids clubs onboard. (It's also telling how good a kids' club is when you think to yourself, "Hey, this place is really cool -- I wouldn't mind hanging out here myself!") And with the Youth Center, Princess reaffirms its commitment to the family market. Six permanent workers staff the Youth Center, with more brought in during busy periods. The minimum age to sail is 6 months (1 year for the longer itineraries).
The Youth Center is located aft on Deck 17, behind the fitness center. It's divided into three interconnected spots: Pelicans for 3- to 7-year-olds, Shockwaves for 8- to 12-year-olds and Remix for the 13- to 17-year-olds.
Pelicans, which can hold 50 youngsters, has all the stuff you would expect in a kids club, such as soft play areas for the tiny kids (accompanied by parents), a climbing frame and a bank of terminals for kids to play video games. It also has foosball, a mini-air hockey table and Skeeball. There's an additional area for arts and crafts.
New to Princess is a dedicated outside area for the little ones that's completely enclosed, with high walls, a climbing frame at one end and a race track for tricycles.
Special kids activities include educational workshops and the Jr. Chef@Sea program, as well as theme and party nights, when movies will be shown or pizza and ice cream will be served.
Pelicans is open all day on port days from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., but on sea days, it's closed from noon until 1 p.m. and from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. for meal times, which are usually served in the Horizon Court, directly below. There, kids can eat, play and sit at junior-sized chairs and tables in a dedicated area for children with the rest of their family still nearby. The space is also used by the Youth Center for activities like pizza and ice cream parties.
A group baby-sitting service is available for 3- to 12-year-olds from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. at a charge of $5 per child. Sleeping bags, pillows and movies are provided.
Kids are expected to be toilet-trained, but staff will change the very young ones in case of an accident.
Next door is Shockwaves for the preteens. It, too, has air hockey, Skeeball, foosball, even more terminals (for PlayStation3), a games area, a sitting area, a small library and hanging out area, an arts and crafts station, a huge flat-screen TV and a D.J. booth. The only thing it doesn't have is a dedicated outdoor area. It has the same hours as Pelicans.
The 13- to 17-year-olds hang out in Remix, which is primarily a large lounge with lots of comfy chairs and tables that can hold up to 100 teenagers. There's a TV area, a dance floor and the requisite TV monitors for playing video games. Discos will occasionally take place in Remix; otherwise, if there are enough kids, the staff will pre-book Club 6 for an early evening dance.
Remix has the same selection of arcade-style games like foosball and Skeeball. It also has a very cool outside area (according to Princess, this is fulfilling a request from teens), which is remarkably similar to an exclusive hangout for adults. It comes with sun loungers, mood lighting, contemporary seating, table tennis and a hot tub. It's only accessible via the club (i.e. no adults allowed). Teens get to take part in activities designed for their age group, including sports competitions, late-night movies, dance classes, mocktail parties, formal dinners and video game tournaments. Remix is open until 3 a.m.
Princess passengers are typically sophisticated, but not stuffy. They're mostly Americans (on Caribbean routes) and Brits (when the ship is sailing the Mediterranean) who enjoy a quality product in an atmosphere of casual elegance. Many families choose Princess; multigenerational groups (grandparents, adult children, grandkids) enjoy the dining and entertainment options and the line's solid family programs. During the Caribbean season, the average age is mid- to high-40's; on European itineraries, the average age skews higher (except during school holidays).
The main pool deck, Deck 16 mid-ship, features two freshwater swimming pools, which are pretty small, considering the size of the ship. In the middle is an "island" surrounded by faux palm trees and dotted with loungers. There are two hot tubs in the main pool area and two in The Retreat. There is a number of different styles of seating options, including circular loungers, garden-style furniture, bar-height tables and stools, and chaise lounges. At night, the pool area transforms for the Water & Light Show, and the island area becomes a stage with an interactive sound and light show featuring dancing fountains. With a sophisticated lighting and sound system, and a computerized fountain featuring 85 water jets, streams of water shoot 33 feet into the air. The downside: There's a lot of acreage given over to the water feature -- at the expense of sun loungers -- and we feel this area could get awfully crowded on sunny days and warm nights.
The ship features a new double-lane jogging track with separate paths for runners and walkers. The track area is decorated with art, picturing iconic global travel destinations, giving passengers the opportunity to "run around the world."
We're torn on whether the SeaWalk -- a glass-floored walkway cantilevered over the side of the ship on Deck 16, with vertigo-inducing views to the ocean below -- is a significant addition to the ship or a gimmick (particularly if your mini-suite is directly below it).
Spa-goers searching for pampering on Royal Princess no longer have to trek to a top corner of the ship -- the standard area for cruise ship spas -- because Princess has put its Lotus Spa on Deck 5, just off The Piazza.
Mimicking a move by Royal Caribbean, which took a similar approach with the spas on Oasis and Allure of the Seas, Princess has opted for space over sunlight. The 10,000-square-foot Lotus Spa, the biggest in the fleet, offers more treatment rooms than any other Princess spa, as well as an enhanced thermal suite called The Enclave.
An unavoidable drawback associated with its new, easy-access location is that the Lotus Spa receives less natural light in its facility than many other cruise ship spas, but we didn't miss it; the facility is absolutely beautiful and serene. One exception is the beauty salon, with its barber shop for men, which is flooded with light.
What Lotus lacks in light, it more than makes up for in treatment options. The spa covers all the bases with a full-service salon, teeth-whitening stations, a barber shop, plush mani-pedi areas, the aforementioned relaxation room (for a spot of herbal tea, pre-massage) and 18 treatment rooms (some with windows). And that's not to mention the amenities in The Enclave.
The Enclave offers the largest thermal suite in the Princess fleet, complete with a hydrotherapy pool and accompanying rain shower. Inside the suite, with its spaceship-like lighting, passengers can try out heated tile loungers or waterbeds, as well as sensory showers with mood lighting and therapeutic aromas. Three named rooms offer a variety of heat-based experiences: The Hammam, a Turkish-style bath, featuring a marble slab for mud or salt treatments; the Caldarium, a ceramic chamber infused with herbal aromas; and the Laconium, a dry sauna. Day passes to The Enclave are $39 per person, per day, and full-voyage pass rates start at $219 for individuals, depending on the length of the cruise.
The Scrub & Shine Bar, located near the Lotus Spa's reception desk, offers sugar and salt scrubs mixed with herbs, created individually for each passenger by a "mixologist." Passengers can get recommendations for the perfect scrubs to complement their treatments, and the blends are applied before spa treatments or a trip to The Enclave. The scrubs are also available for purchase, separate from the spa menu, based on ingredients selected.
Prices for basic treatments, such as facials and manicures, at The Lotus Spa are cruise-standard. For example, a manicure is your cheapest treatment option, and those start at $50. On the downside, we found that massages and more exotic treatments were overpriced. The cheapest -- a 75-minute Swedish massage -- came in at a hefty $165 (not including tip) and was marred by an overly aggressive product pitch from our therapist.
Aimed at cruising twosomes, two new Couples Villas within the spa provide side-by-side massages, followed by an hour's relaxation in a whirlpool bath or sitting area with ocean views. Packages range from $449 (50-minute treatment) to $589 (facial and massage, 100 minutes) per couple.
The spa extends it outreach to Royal Princess' Sanctuary, a for-fee sun deck for adults only ($15 for a half day or $25 for a full day, per person).
Couples can also opt for alfresco massage packages in the Sanctuary. Four new Sanctuary Cabanas offer amenities like a personal television with noise-reducing wireless headphones; sofas, robes and slippers; a welcome cocktail; snacks, including fresh fruit and nuts; and a fully stocked mini-bar with soft drinks, beer and wine. Sanctuary Cabanas start at $80 for a half day. Couples cabana massages start at $320 for an 80-minute treatment.
There are also two new Lotus Spa Cabanas, which are larger, more enclosed areas, set in an exclusive area at the bow of the ship's top deck. They feature a comfortable resting area with a television and plush chairs, a treatment area with two massage tables and beautiful ocean views looking out over the front of the ship. A variety of customized packages is available for the Lotus Spa Cabanas, ranging from $320 to $3,000, but it's also possible to book treatments individually or as a couple from the Lotus Spa menu. The top-of-the-line package is a "Royal Indulgence" package for four people ($3,000). This exclusive experience provides the ultimate in pampering with all-day massages and gourmet food and drinks. The price tag includes unlimited spa treatments, caviar, a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne and butler service. Access to a special menu of healthy snacks and salads is free, but juice "mocktails" cost extra. "Princess Pleasure" is the half-day option, which again is for four people and comes in at $1,500.
Among the usual sweaty suspects, Royal Princess features a few fun twists for fitness and leisure; a portable batting cage and a new take on the at-sea jogging track, with a circuit program offering outdoor exercise stations, are a couple of the more unconventional offerings in the multisport area on Decks 18 and 19, known as Princess Sports Central. Royal Princess' laser shooting range is a simulated laser with moving targets displayed on a screen -- an arcade-like offering that compliments the Shockwaves (ages 8 to 12) and Remix (ages 13 to 17) game lounges' Xbox Kinect gaming systems.
Princess Sports Central also features a golf driving facility, multiuse court (basketball, volleyball, tennis) and table tennis. On the upper deck, a Lawn Court offers an artificial grassy area for bocce, croquet and lawn bowling, as well as a putting green.
Below the sports area, on Deck 17, passengers will find the fitness center with the expected array of equipment, including treadmills, elliptical machines and free weights. Additionally, at the back of the gym, a private aerobics studio offers fitness classes that include TRX suspension bodyweight training, body sculpt boot camp sessions, spinning classes and an aromatherapy yoga class. Class prices range from $12 to $20, personal training sessions cost $85, and the body sculpt boot camp (BSBC) costs $120 for which you get four classes, a free body composition analysis and the BSBC program to take home with you.
On our sailing, fitness instructors offered a complimentary Zumba class in the atrium that was great fun.
Princess adds $12.95 per day to each adult's onboard account as a prepaid gratuity ($13.95 for those in suites and mini-suites). An automatic 15 percent is added to bar and spa bills. Although not required, it is recommended that gratuities be offered for room service, usually just a dollar or two. The currency onboard is American dollars.
Maximum Capacity: 3560
Crew Nationality: International
Officer Nationality: International
Language(s) Spoken:< Multiple Languages
|Christened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge on June 13, 2013, Royal Princess is dazzling its passengers with exciting new features. Called one of the "Most Popular Ships at Sea" by Cruise Critic, she's already won five prestigious Travel Weekly Magellan Awards in the Large Ship, Atrium, Spa, Pool and Mobile App Design categories. And her innovative SeaWalk® is being hailed as one of the "Top Gee-Whiz Features at Sea" by USA Today!|
Health and Beauty
No. of Dinner Sittings: 2
No. of Dinner Sittings: 6:30pm & 8:30pm
Special Diet: Available upon request
Dress Code: Varies from Casual to Formal dressGratuity Policies
Suites $15.50 USD per person, per day
Club Class $14.50 USD per person, per day
Regular Staterooms $13.50 USD per person per day