Fodor’s Expert Review
A v... Vancouver
Princess Cruises sailed into fame in the late 1970s when one of its ships captured the starring role in the iconic television show “The Love Boat.” Royal Princess, launched in 2013, is one of 15 ships in the fleet.Read More
The first of the lines’ Royal Class of ships, she was christened by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. (The original Royal Princess was christened by her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana.) Among the ship’s notable features is its MedallionClass technology. Every guest receives a complimentary, wearable quarter-sized medallion that provides keyless entry to their stateroom. (It’s incredibly handy when your hands are full.) Guests that install the MedallionClass app on their smart phone can use the tech in a myriad of ways while onboard the ship ranging from making dining reservations and locating travel companions, to playing games and having food and drink delivered practically anywhere on the ship.
Thanks in part to a partnership with Discovery communications (Discovery and Animal Planet) Royal Princess is able to provide guests with local connections to its ports of call. During Alaskan sailings guests might get to hear what it’s like to fish for king crab from a seasoned captain; while in Hawaii cruisers can opt for ukulele and hula lessons.
The ship’s SeaWalk, a glass enclosed 60-foot walkway that stretches 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship, provides stellar views of the waves below, and is a favorite spot for viewing opportunities and photos.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Staterooms & Cabins
Passenger cabins range from suites with private balconies to compact inside staterooms—the latter representing the ship’s most affordable option. Bed configurations include a queen or two twins, with select cabins offering sofa beds or drop-down berths to accommodate children or groups traveling together. All outside staterooms, regardless of category, feature a balcony. Cabins have a neutral beige color scheme, refrigerator, and flat-screen television with a vast selection of programming including live television, movies and classic TV series including Modern Family, Cheers, and, of course, The Love Boat. Safety videos, port information, and ship details can also be located with the click of a remote.
Of the ship’s nearly 1,800 accommodations, more than 700 are categorized as balcony cabins. Bathrooms in this stateroom category aren’t spacious, but they offer a reasonable amount of vanity and shelf space for two people. The closet is generous with ample room to store clothing and tuck small roller bags out of the way. Bedside motion sensor lights illuminate dark cabins as soon your foot touches the floor.
There are 38 accessible staterooms (1 suite, 6 mini suites, 23 balcony cabins, and 8 inside cabins) designed for guests with mobility disabilities. In addition to full wheelchair-turning radius, these staterooms feature a roll-in shower equipped with grab bars and a fold-down bench seat, an easy-access closet, and accessible writing desk. Guests who are hearing or vision impaired can be accommodated in any stateroom. A guest with vision loss may travel with their guide dog. Those traveling with a mobility device are asked to complete a mobility questionnaire after booking.
Food & Drink
There are a mind-boggling number of dining options included in the cruise fare on Royal Princess. Allegro, Concerto, and Symphony are the main, sit-down dining room options. Menus are comprised of daily specials and always available, Princess favorites including shrimp cocktail, French onion soup, and a pan-roasted chicken breast. Horizon Court offers the typical cruise buffet dining experience; Alfredo’s Pizzeria offers table service, while Prego Pizzeria suits those looking for a grab and go option. There’s also a decent selection of complimentary room service options.
A variety of specialty restaurants are available for guests willing to pay to enjoy more options. Crown Grill offers steak and seafood; Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria serves fresh pasta alongside classics including eggplant parmigiana and veal marsala. Sushi lovers will gravitate toward the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar. Guests can also arrange meals served on the privacy of their own balcony as part of the ship’s Ultimate Balcony Dining offering.
Vegetarian options are always available, and dietary restrictions are accommodated. Wine, beer, cocktails, and soft drinks are an additional fee. They can be purchased a la carte, or as part of a package.
There’s no good reason to go thirsty when sailing aboard the Royal Princess. You can get a drink just about anywhere on the ship; in addition to drink service in the ship’s many dining venues, there are about a dozen bars to choose from. Crooners Bar shakes up more than 100 types of martinis. Good Spirits At Sea is known for its destination based cocktails like the Bangkok Mule (whiskey, basil, lemongrass, ginger syrup, and ginger beer) and The Cartagena Cool (Appleton rum, cinnamon, orange and chocolate bitters, cinnamon syrup, and orange peel).
Days at sea and in port are filled with a myriad events and activities to keep guests busy and engaged. From origami and Sudoku, to bingo games and fruit carving demonstrations, there’s something for practically every interest. Evening entertainment ranges from Broadway-style production shows, to comedy performances and DJ-hosted events. A big screen overlooking decks 16 and 17 shows first-run movies under the stars every night. On Alaska sailings, blankets are provided to keep guests warm and toasty.
Spa & Fitness
Those looking to keep up their workout routine should have no problem while aboard Royal Princess. Fitness instructors offer classes ranging from yoga and Pilates to stretching. (Indoor cycling, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and personal training is available for an additional fee.) The 24-hour fitness center features a line-up of exercise equipment with ocean views.
Decks 18 and 19 feature a plethora of outdoor sporting options for active cruisers. The Center Court is used for pickleball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, and badminton. It’s flanked by ping-pong tables and a golf cage for those interested in practicing their swing. The Lawn Court features a small grassy area ideal for mini-golf competitions, bocce ball, croquet, and lawn bowling.
Lotus Spa offers expected treatments the likes of facials and massages, along with acupuncture, cupping, and Tai Chi. The spa’s thermal suite, The Enclave, boasts a hydro-therapy pool, hammam (Turkish-style steam bath), heated stone beds, and more. Single-day and entire sailing passes are available for purchase.
Deck 17 is home to The Sanctuary, an adults-only stretch of prime deck real estate with cushy loungers, cabanas, spa fare, and dedicated staff. An additional cost is required for entrance.
Key cruising tips
Health & Safety
Unvaccinated guests must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test within three days of sailing. Vaccinated cruisers only need to show proof of vaccination. Requirements may vary for sailings that depart from Canada. (Guests can use this link to check current requirements.) The ship’s Medical Center is staffed with a team of doctors and nurses. Along with morning and evening office hours, they are on-call around the clock in case of emergency.
Daytime is casual. Expect shorts, T-shirts, and poolside attire in warmer destinations; in Alaska, long pants and layers prevail. Most evenings call for smart casual dress, or something you would wear to a nice restaurant.
On a 7-day cruise, there will be two formal nights. While you may see an occasional woman in an evening gown, a nice dress or pantsuit is the norm. For men, a dark suit or dinner jacket with slacks are common. Pool attire, shorts, and distressed denim are not allowed in the dining room.
The Discovery at Sea partnership includes dedicated spaces for passengers ages 3 to 17. The Treehouse is designed for children to ages 3 to 7. Children must be toilet trained to participate, and kids must be signed in and out by a parent or authorized guest. Youth ages 8 to 11 are welcome at The Lodge, while The Beach House is for kids ages 12-17.
Crew members aboard Royal Princess are attentive and friendly. The ship’s staff is culturally diverse, hailing from more than 50 countries.
Daily gratuities are automatically added to guests’ onboard accounts. Amounts are based on stateroom category: $14.50 per guest in Interior, Oceanview and Balcony cabins, $15.50 per guest in Mini-Suite and Club Class, and $16.50 per guest in Suites.