I just returned from a 12-day Eastern Mediterranean cruise aboard Royal Princess, Istanbul to Civitavecchia (Rome), May24-June5, 2000. I was curious to see what condition the ship was in since the last time I sailed her was 1988 when she was only 4 years old. I can report that Royal Princess is in immaculate shape, and excepting for normal wear-and-tear, she looks as beautiful as the day she began service! She has been recently refurbished, and her public rooms sparkle with fresh carpets and upholstery. Our stateroom, with veranda, did not appear to be 16 years old, and the bath was clean and fresh. Her teak decks and Lido are as beautiful as ever! Embarkation in Istanbul was a snap; we were dropped off at the pier after an optional tour of Istanbul (we went to Istanbul a day early), boarded immediately, and our luggage arrived in our room about an hour later. We had a stewardess from Romania, although we were told that most cabin attendants are males from the Philippines. She was wonderful, and learned our sleeping habits right away. We often requested continental breakfast in our cabin; we chose delivery from 7:30-8:00, and it always arrived promptly at 7:30, and was graciously carried right out to our veranda. I gave an overall rating to this cruise of 4 stars because breakfast and lunch service in the dining room could use some improvement. One word of caution: if you choose to charge your gratuities to your shipboard account, be sure to have the slips "validated" in a bar. We assumed that the pursers desk would take care of the validation; even though the gratuities were charged to our account, our waiter was sure that we hadn't tipped him and made quite a scene the last night. Unfortunately, it rather finished our cruise on a sour note.
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