The expanded, 141-seat Alfredo’s, now on the Piazza, has the best pizza at sea, just as Princess brags — thin crust and hand-tossed. Try the Pizza Royal Princess, topped with Parma ham, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and shaved Parmesan. There is no cover charge.
In a bold move, Princess has relocated the ship’s reception and shore excursion desks down the hallway from the main atrium and put the Lotus Spa adjacent, rather than on an upper deck.
Moving the spa to prime real estate, where the passenger traffic is heavy, was designed to remind cruisers to book spa appointments, an in-your-face marketing concept. The location has other advantages, including the opportunity for Princess to dedicate more spa space.
The spa has a large relaxation area called the Enclave (a fee applies) where guests may luxuriate in the cruise line’s first hydrotherapy pool. There’s also a Turkish-style hamman, Roman-inspired sauna (all for mixed sexes) and a pair of waterbeds.
Treatment rooms include Couples Villas with whirlpools (from $449 for a couples massage). For solo spa-goers, a signature Royal Experience package ($399 for 75 minutes) involves two therapists giving you a simultaneous facial and massage. The ocean-view fitness room is on an upper deck.
Two Princess specialty restaurants are now connected to lounges, with the Crown Grill steakhouse ($25) steps away from the Wheelhouse Bar, and Italian Sabatini’s ($25) now adjacent to Vines wine bar.
Among new dining options are the Chef’s Table Lumiere (a fee applies), a private area in the middle of a main dining room, creatively surrounded by a curtain of light. A larger and reconfigured Horizon Court buffet — with more action stations — is transformed at night with two new alternative dining options, Crab Shack and Fondues (each $20).
Princess is touting its new pastry shop in Horizon Court, but what the line appears to have done is simply enhanced its buffet desserts and put them all in one spot.
Princess has more food and beverages for sale on Royal Princess than on any of its other ships, the line’s position being passengers who want something special will pay extra for it. So, if you want soft serve ice cream, it’s free as usual on an upper deck. But if you want gelato from the shop in the Piazza you’ll pay extra.
Up on the expansive sun decks, there are welcome changes. An expanded adults-only (18 and up) oasis serves up two areas, the Retreat Pool and the Sanctuary. While you can lounge at the pool for free, the plush Sanctuary sunning area requires an admission charge ($15 per person for a half-day).
Both areas are equipped with Princess’ first private cabanas — a feature that has become popular on other lines including Holland America. The tented cabanas have billowing curtains and come with cushy seating, a minibar and snacks (rental is from $50 for a half day at the pool, from $80 at The Sanctuary). At the top-of-the-line are two huge, high-ceiling Royal Villas in the Sanctuary where couples can get an Exotic Couples Massage (from $449), or up to four people can share a package that combines spa treatments with treats including caviar and champagne (from $1,500).
Kids are not left out of the equation. The ship offers expanded space for youth centers complete with outdoor areas.
Toddlers under 3 have their own play area. Princess Pelicans (ages 3-7) can play on a new mini air hockey table and ride tricycles in a playground. Shockwaves (ages 8-12) have their own dedicated outside area with lounge chairs and indoors can play games including skeeball. Teens in Remix (ages 13-17) get special attention with their dedicated space including a lounge area equipped with DJ booth, foosball, skeeball, and the latest video games and an outdoor lounge with contemporary seating and a wading pool. Staff at Remix said the lounge usually stays open to 1 a.m. but has remained open as late as 3 a.m.
For a gentle “thrill,” Princess designed two walkways that should provide popular views, depending on your ease at standing on a solid glass floor with nothing but the swirling sea below.
The SeaWalk and SeaView Bar are on opposite sides of the ship on the pool deck. Each open-air space cantilevers 28 feet off the side (wider even than the bridge). As you walk, you can see the sea some 128 feet below you. On the SeaView bar side of the ship are stools at the edge of the walkway, which are likely to become popular perches.
Nearby, the main pool area is outfitted with an impressive fountain that during the day is a fun water spray feature and at night becomes part of water-and-light shows, including one accompanied by a Frank Sinatra soundtrack. Some of the shows also make use of the ship’s huge Movies Under the Stars Screen, the largest in the fleet (the outdoor movies concept was pioneered by Princess).
In the ship’s Princess Theater, the largest in the fleet, performers do streamlined, 30-minute shows that make use of LED screens and other technology. Meanwhile, The Princess Live! TV Studio is a new venue for interactive game shows and a new daily, ship-wide TV program called The Wake Show.
In the comfort of your own cabin, there are on-demand movies and TV shows, all for free — accessible using an easy to navigate system that Princess developed in-house.
In a clever move, cabin hallways on Royal Princess are decorated with 1,000 photos submitted by former Princess passengers.