Which? has been given a preview tour of the new ship from Princess Cruises. Find out how Which? members have rated this company when we reveal the results of our latest Travel Companies survey on 24 June.
As the ship’s Godmother, the Duchess of Cambridge is due to officially name the Royal Princess today in a bottle-breaking ceremony at Southampton’s Ocean Terminal – her final engagement before giving birth.
Royal Princess review
Yesterday, we visited this newest and largest ship in Princess’ Cruises fleet. The lengthy decks provide dozens of activities, eateries and entertainment venues, in an elegant environment.
For the first time, each ocean-facing stateroom (cabin) has a balcony, although those outside the standard rooms are rather small. Standard cabins – whether sea-facing or inside-facing (a small proportion) are spacious enough, smart, but with a fairly small shower room. A small minority are inside-facing cabins, featuring full-length mirrors. There are no staterooms for solo travellers. Appealing destination photos taken by passengers line the corridor walls by the staterooms.
One highlight is the outdoor movie theatre featuring the fleet’s largest HD screen and free popcorn. In the same deck area there will be a new evening sound and light show with dancing fountains.
New ship features
A notable novelty on this ship is the SeaWalk, a unique glass-bottomed walkway that extends 28 feet over the edge of the ship 128 feet above the ocean. A fun gimmick but vertigo sufferers beware!
This is the first Princess ship to have a TV studio presenting comedy, game shows and concerts, relayed to staterooms. Also new to Princess ships is a seafood bar, an Italian-style Bellini bar, a gelateria and pastry shop, although some of the purchases here incur extra charges.
In keeping with other Princess Cruises ships, you can dine at any number of restaurants during the cruise, but several of these will cost up to an extra US$25, while a discretionary gratuity of US$11.50 per person per day, and a 15% charge on top of drinks prices, will automatically be added to guests’ on-board account.
There are also extra charges for poolside cabanas, classes in the high-tech gym or for using the Lotus Spa, which has inviting water beds, heated loungers and hydrotherapy pool.
The 3,560-passenger ship leaves Southampton on its maiden voyage on 16 June, sailing to ports such as Barcelona and Venice where subsequent cruises will begin or end through the summer. In October, the ship will sail to Fort Lauderdale for a winter season of Caribbean cruises. Itineraries in 2014 will include ports in the UK, Iceland and Russia.
Prices (excluding flights) start from £543 per person for a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise and from £1,415 per person for an 11-day Scandinavia and Russia cruise. Sister ship the Regal Princess will launch in spring 2014.