Five Things to Know About Princess Cruises' Royal Princess Cruise Ship
World's Best 2016 Awards Rank: #7 Mega Ocean Ship
Best for: Couples, families, and anyone who loves traditional cruising
Sails: The British Isles, The Caribbean, the Mediterranean, New England and Canada, Northern Europe
At a Glance: A Travel + Leisure World’s Bet 2016 winner, placing seventh in the Mega Ocean Ship category. Like its sister ship the Regal Princess, the 3,560-passenger Royal Princess is the line’s largest class of vessel. It manages to balance modern touches (resort-style pampering, crowd-pleasing specialty restaurants) with traditional ones (formal nights, set seating times), offering something for old- and new-school cruisers.
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Formal Nights and Other Traditions Live On
While many other lines are loosening their dress codes, Princess Cruises continues the tradition of formal nights. (Note, however, that men are more likely to wear suits than tuxes and women tend to stick to cocktail-party attire.) Those who like to stick to cruising traditions at dinnertime can choose to eat at Allegro Dining Room, which serves passengers at a set time and a set table—and with the same waiter—each night. (Two other dining rooms offer open, anytime seating.)
Romantic Touches Abound
Couples hoping for a little Love Boat-style magic won’t be disappointed. There’s stargazing on the deck (part of the line’s Discovery at Sea program); massages in the Couples Villas at the Lotus Spa; and a wedding chapel on board—unlike on most lines, Princess’s captains can actually marry couples at sea. Don’t miss Movies Under the Stars, when passengers cuddle under blankets on lounge chairs by the pool and watch films while snacking on popcorn.
The For-Fee Restaurants Impress
The best meals are at the specialty restaurants. If you’re in the mood for Italian, make a reservation at the excellent Sabatini’s, where you can order everything from penne with braised short rib to lobster three ways. (Don’t miss the roasted veal rack with mushroom ragout.) Or head to Crown Grill for generous portions of Kansas City or New York strip, or one of five kinds of thick center-cut chops. Passengers who’ve ever wondered what happens behind the scenes in a ship’s galley can sign up for the Chef’s Table Lumière. Guests sip bubby and eat hors d’oeuvres while touring the kitchen during dinner service, then are seated at a private table in one of the main dining rooms for a special multicourse feast. The visuals are almost as stunning as the meal: there’s a glowing Murano-glass centerpiece, long mahogany table with mother-of-pearl detailing, and a dramatic chandelier overhead.
Quiet Time Is A Priority
Royal Princess is a family-friendly ship, so there may be times when you want to escape to the adults-only Sanctuary relaxation area to decompress. (For maximum privacy, book one of the private cabanas.) Sanctuary Stewards walk from lounge chair to lounge chair, offering Evian spritzes, chilled towels, fruit skewers, and MP3 players with noise-canceling headphones. And if you’d like an outdoor massage, that can be arranged, too. Right next door is the adults-only Retreat Pool and Bar, which also has private cabanas. At night, this area transforms into the Chill Lounge, where you can hang out with a cocktail while live music plays. For a more wellness-oriented vibe, buy a pass to the Enclave thermal suite in the Lotus Spa. Along with a hydrotherapy pool and waterbeds, it has a hammam, a Roman-style caldarium, and an herbal steam room.
The SeaWalk Is a Must
You may not find waterslides or zip lines on this ship, but you will have the chance to stroll the SeaWalk, a glass walkway that hangs over the sea and begs to be Instagrammed. (The nearby SeaView Bar is also cantilevered over the ship’s edge.) Still the place you’ll keep coming back to is the Piazza, the buzzy three-deck Italian-style atrium that’s the hub of the ship. (With the exception of the Regal Princess, Royal Princess has the biggest Piazza of all the Princess ships.) Whether it’s a troupe of acrobats or a classical quartet, there’s almost always a performance happening here. The Piazza is also the perfect spot for a cocktail: Among the eateries and watering holes here are Vines wine bar, Bellini’s bar, Crooners martini bar, and Ocean Terrace (which serves cocktails, along with sushi, ceviche, and caviar) are all located here.