Miami-based travel blogger and photographer J.D. Andrews sailed on Princess Cruise Lines’ newest build, the Royal Princess, over the summer when the ship was in the Mediterranean. Next month, the ship moves to the Caribbean for the winter, then plans to sail the Baltic next summer. (Rough life, huh?)
Andrews travels almost 75 percent of the year, but this ship stood out to him as having a more sophisticated design among the vessels he has seen. “It was one of the classiest ships I have seen in a long time.” Here, a peek at his take on this long-awaited new build. Decide for yourself if you agree:
In the evening, you can see performances in the middle of the atrium. “The first night I saw a couple of acrobats — he would lift her in a metal hula hoop. It was pretty amazing that he could do that on a moving ship.”
The first of its kind, this shop scoops up sundaes, shakes, and cones. “I’m glad I didn’t know about this place until the end of my cruise — the last thing I needed was more food!”
This Champagne bar pours a variety of top French choices. “I did have a glass of Champagne, but I prefer wine in general. They had some really good wine in Sabatini’s — that was my favorite.”
This pizza restaurant serves Neapolitan pies. “I thought it was pretty good — it was probably the best ship pizza I have ever had. Most ship pizza isn’t good at all,” he confesses.
The Sanctuary is larger than on other Princess ships, yet it still sells out. “I hung out here on the sea day. The atmosphere was really nice. On sea days, everything is packed, but in there, you have plenty of space.”
The four cabanas in the Sanctuary — which come with televisions and butler service — are new on this ship. “If I was traveling with my family or a big group of friends, I think it would be really fun to hang out in one of those.”
The grill serves chops and porterhouses, but it’s worth snaring other passengers to dine with you so you can book the wine room table. “The night I ate here there was a full moon, but I ate such a big steak, I went right to bed.”
Flights of whiskey don’t seem unreasonable — after all, nobody has to drive home. After dinner, your cabin is an elevator ride away. “I’ve seen a lot of wine tastings on ships, but this is the first time I have seen whiskey.”
The theater is also the line’s largest to date, and is outfitted with sophisticated lighting. “Because there are so few poles in the room, and they’re on the sides,” Andrews explains, “there’s no bad seat in the house in this theater.”
Movies Under the Stars
The movie screen on deck is the largest at sea. At night, you can watch a movie, with blankets and popcorn. “The days were so long, and dinner too, that I never got up on deck at night,” Andrews says.
J.D. Andrews, who produces the popular EarthXplorer.com blog has been featured on various websites, including National Geographic Traveler, BBC Travel, and Gadling. He has three Emmy Awards, and won the prestigious Travel Shorty Award in 2011.