ABOARD ROYAL PRINCESS – This cruise marks several firsts for us: Our first cruise on a Princess ship, and our first holiday voyage. We opted for a seven-day Eastern Caribbean excursion in lieu of the traditional Thanksgiving celebration. For once, we’ll relax and let someone else do the cooking and cleaning. Plus, a chance to experience the newest ship in the Princess fleet — Royal Princess made her debut in June.
We boarded from Port Everglades at Fort Lauderdale, and over the course of the next seven days we will visit Princess Cays, a private beach area on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
Some first impressions from Day One:
The Boarding Process. Smooth, thanks in part because we didn’t arrive until our designated time slot. Why fight the crowds to be first in line for lunch? A nice plus was the helpful crew who pointed us in the right direction all along the way. We also enjoyed the captain’s sounding a few bars from the “Love Boat” theme (remember the 70s TV show that put the Princess brand on the map?) on the ship’s horn as we made our departure.
Our stateroom. We have a balcony room almost all the way to the front of the ship on Deck 9 – designation Dolphin. It’s roomy enough, thanks to a nice layout that separates the bathroom/closet from the bed area. There’s a 37-inch flat screen TV hugging one wall. The color scheme is soothing neutral tones with the occasional splash of color. Very cozy-comfy.
The lights are activated by inserting your stateroom keycard in a slot by the door. It’s an energy-saving measure that takes a little getting used to and might up the chances of leaving your room without your card. And as with just about every ship we’ve been on, there’s a maddening lack of power outlets. Tip: Always pack an extension cord and if you have a lot of electronics, a six-power strip.
The standard balcony is fairly compact; there’s just enough room for two chairs and a small table. There’s a refrigerator, and the safe to hold your valuables is quite roomy.
Around the Ship: The ship is beautiful, with that still-new sparkle and “new car” fragrance. A lot of the on-board activity is centered on the piazza-style atrium, which exudes elegance, starting with the double spiral staircases. In the first 24 hours we’ve seen everything from rock and roll dancing to exercise classes to piano instrumentals. You can eat, drink and be merry without leaving the area.
We still haven’t figured out the elevators. Judging by the comments, a number of other passengers haven’t, either. The bank closest to us has four elevators and two sets of buttons, so you have to make it point to press both if you are trying to catch one. And more often than not, the ones going in your direction don’t stop but zip right past. Doubtless some start-up bugs still to be worked out
The SeaWalk feature on Deck 16 is a cool addition, if only for the “wow” factor. It’s a glass-bottom walkway that extends 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship on either side (one side hosts a bar).
If you are reading this, it means they fixed the Internet. The long line at the Internet Café were passengers seeking refunds for the empty minutes online when no one knew the satellite was down. Technology – it’s great when it works.
Next: A stop at Princess Cays.
We left the port in rainy, windy conditions, and that didn’t abate as we headed towards the Bahamas. In fact, it seemed to worsen as we rocked and rolled along. Hopefully tomorrow will bring calmer conditions as we dock at Princess Cays