Today’s Day at Sea entry on the Royal Princess is about its Public Areas… Given the smaller size of the ship, we were wondering what kind of compromises needed to be made to the public areas as the ship was shrunk down for the smaller ship cruise experience.
Outside public areas:
There is only one pool on-board and it is located mid-ship Deck 9. In addition, there are two hot tubs flanking the pool, and one additional specialty hot tub adjoining the Fitness Center (special fee-based pass required for this one… Its a smaller offshoot of the “Sanctuary” program for Princess on this vessel). The deck areas on 9 surrounding the pool are generally full, but not stuffed to capacity, and if additional deck chairs are desired, these can be found on Deck 5 outside of the promenade shops, and on Deck 10/11 Sun Deck. There is also a bar near the pool, the grill (mentioned in the food/drink entry), ping pong table, shuffleboard, and a large scale chess/checkers set available for play.
Inside public areas:
The one glaring difference on the Royal is that there is no “Theater” in the traditional Princess sense of the word. The Cabaret Lounge is as close as you are going to get on Deck 5 forward, and this venue seats no more than 250 in a half circle of couches, small bar tables, etc. like you would find in secondary lounges on the larger vessels. This is where all of the major entertainment takes place and your headliners for Princess shows. This can cause some degree of difficulty with seating on well attended events (like the Tahitian Cultural show), but serves its purpose given the smaller size of the ship and fewer passengers.
The other major location is the Royal Lounge on Deck 10 forward. This location serves as the art auction location, the disco in the evening, and provides the primary forward lounge for activities on board including some lectures, bingo, etc. that are not in the Cabaret Lounge. Between the two, these locations will support most of the major activities on-board without much trouble.
There is a tiny casino (4 Tables, 1 each for Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and other card games), along with about 3-4 dozen slots, but the passengers that want to gamble will find that though it is small it is covering most of the major bases without trouble.
Next to the Casino is the Casino Bar, where you can find the evening piano player, as well as karaoke, and is also the location for independent tender passengers to get their tickets (ship tours start in the Cabaret). This is one of only three inside bars on board, with the other being the Club Bar, just outside the restaurant, and another bar in the Royal lounge (mentioned above).
In the area surrounding the Casino is the walk through art gallery, and the photo gallery area — small, but just enough to meet passenger demands. Seems to be a big push for photos this trip, but no more so than most of our sailings.
Next to the Casino/Photo Gallery/Art area are the boutiques, and these are bare minimum on the ship. If you came to shop, you really need to do it on shore, however, the Sundries shop is well equipped with all of the needed basics (simple medications, snacks, sunblock, snorkel gear, etc.) and is open every day, even if just for limited hours.
The main reception deck is on Deck 4 below the shops and handles all day to day functions with the shore excursion desk just off to the side.
The internet stations are stuffed into a small corner on deck 10, and offer no more than 6 PCs, but given how many folks have iPhones, laptops, etc. this is not a concern with the ship wide wi-fi… And its Tahiti… I am trying to stay off the internet as much as humanly possible. =)
Some unexpected and welcome bright spots on the Royal were its sizable and very ample Library and Game/Card Rooms. Two separate spaces, with lots of space, comfortable and empty places to sit, tremendous and ample book offerings, and a huge assortments of games that never ran out. A very nice change to most ships where the library is little more than a closet and available books and games are long run out on the first or second day.
Though everything was shrunk down with the Royal Princess against its larger sister ships, the shifts still permit all of the key needs to be available, and with a few bonuses like the library and game room, the experience has been a great one.
Tomorrow — Staterooms and Passenger Decks!