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About jondfk

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Bay area, California
  • Interests
    Golf, Travel
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Princess, RCCL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Panama Canal

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  1. Oh I agree, Irina was on Royal for our Sept 29 sailing, but left on the turnaround on Oct 4 to join Sky. Our 5 days with her were phenomenal!
  2. I'll add color to a few points based on our most recent experience on Royal from which we departed on Monday. Booking process is well covered noting to add. We did back to backs and were sought out at the end of leg 1 for bookings on leg 2. We were sought out again at the end of leg 2 in case we were continuing on to a 3rd leg (we weren't). I can easily imagine this might vary ship to ship as do so many things. Regarding tea time. We've had two experiences. In both cases tea time started around 3:00 though as Pam notes it often takes until 3:30 to reach everyone if it's busy. Experience 1 (we like this one) servers come around with a trolly or trays containing sandwiches, cakes, cookies and scones. Yo take as many or few as you like. Experience 2 (we really DON'T like this one) servers come around with pre-plated goodies you take everything or nothing. They seem to do the latter when it's either very busy or very slow in the sanctuary. Shade on Royal class ships. Yes I agree that Royal had very little shade (Royal must be similar). A small number of chairs were positioned behind the central gazebo which afforded shade for a small part of the day. Ironically, the worst seats (in terms of sun and heat) were those at the very front (bow) end behind the glass which both blocked any breeze and seemed to magnify the sun streaming through from above and glancing off the water.
  3. Well the system worked the same way (meaning ATD & CC in the same line) but so few people went to lunch that there were no related delays. Most days one of the CC waiters just grabbed us as we entered the door and took us to a table. Breakfast, we ate in the DR only one day and it was turnaround day on our B2B so most folks were jockeying for position to get off the ship - we were literally the only two in CC that morning - we went just 10 or 15 minutes prior to closing. I don't think this experience was representative.
  4. Our experience on Grand / CB and Ruby was exactly as you describe. In all cases Club Class and only Club Class used the Starboard side entrance while Anytime used the Port side. I'm not sure why Royal uses a different system - CC used the Port side. ATD used both sides (starting at 7:30 as noted above) this had the Club Class host serving as the de facto coordinator for the entire dining room which was at best inefficient. As Pooh noted, once you were recognized by sight you were indeed pulled forward, in my experience this took 3 or 4 dinners. We never settled on a fixed table but did dine most evenings with either Marina or Abraham who were both very good waiters though quite different in style.
  5. The side balcony doesn't have any sort of wind block at the forward end so wind can still come through this area at high speed depending on direction. Assuming it's usable from a wind perspective, it's the same size as any Royal class balcony, which as has been widely reported means - small. We did pull two chairs over to sit here a couple of times when the forward area was just unusable. There are the usual privacy screen both between L107 and L105 and between L107 and L109, either or both could have been opened if traveling with friends / family.
  6. The furniture was teak (quite weather worn for the record). Full size table, 4 side chairs, two loungers. Even with all this furniture one could easily navigate the large deck space.
  7. Re Club Class. If you can slip in the 'out' door on the left side - do so and then signal the reception person. On the subject of table availability we never had any issue, once we managed to reach the reception person we were seated immediately. Most nights we dined as 2, one night we joined two friends and a table for 4 was created upon request. Because they borrow space from the ATD (and the space they take is prime window space) most tables are at most one or two tables from the window.
  8. I like strange cabins. Really. Love the Window Suites on the older Grand class ships. Love cabins at the end of dead end companionways. Anything other than a rectangular box, I'll try. We couldn't resist booking on of these odd duck cabins on Lido deck with the giant balcony at the very front of the ship. I've seen many question, a fair number of photo's but still thought I'd add my thoughts having spent 15 days in one of these on Royal. Positives: + We LOVED the shape of the cabin. It's an 'L' shape with a long entry hall with closets on one side, the bathroom on the other. There's a small sitting room and around the corner is the sleeping area. + That bedroom area is huge. How huge? Well we stored all of our luggage in the corner on the floor and never stepped over it at any point over two weeks. I don't know the square footage but there's no doubt that OV cabins we've stayed in were smaller than the bedroom alone. + That huge deck, well it really is huge. You see the same view as the captain for sail ins / sail outs. What could be better? + It's (obviously) at the end of the ship. So quiet, quiet, quiet. Never heard a soul during our trip. + It's on Lido deck. It's a fair walk to Horizon Court but, no stairs, no elevators. + It's dark when the lights go out. Perched out front like this they took care to limit ambient light which could interfere with the bridge. The sleeping room was pitch black once the lights went out - we looked at the stars from our bed several nights (be sure to close the curtain though because the sun comes up early up there on deck 16!). Negatives: - Well, that huge balcony really can't be used most times when the ship is in motion. There was one day when the prevailing wind was from the stern when it was marginally usable. There were many days when the wind over the rail was probably 45mph, yeah, some of it is deflected up but still . . . - L107/L108 have no shade whatsoever. It's quite warm out there anytime the sun is beating down on the metal deck. I suspect M107/M108 are superior given the fact that they are substantially covered by the Lido deck cabins. - The sitting room is small, there's a loveseat with a pull out. If pulled out the bed ends about 9 inches from the far side of the room. It's sufficient space for two but would feel quite tight with more. Net take away. We've decided we love these cabins and would book one again anytime. I'm happy to take any specific questions you might have about these oddball cabins.
  9. We're veterans of 20 something Princess cruises including 15 on Grand class ships (Grand, Golden, Star, CB & Ruby) 3x on Coral and a few on other vessels. We booked back to back Mexico itineraries on the Royal departing September 29th. We were in L107 with a forward Club Class mini with the giant balcony - I'll post separately regarding the cabin. We had read a lot about the Royal prior to booking and had some concerns, we like the prom deck and worried that we'd miss it. We were concerned about the size and passenger load. The negative comments go on and on, but loved the itinerary and especially the ability to reach the ship from our central valley home without air travel. Having completed 15 days we came off with very few nits and a very high level of satisfaction overall. Highs: + We loved this crazy cabin (again, more on a separate thread), we tend to like "strange" cabins - we love the Window Suites on Grand/Golden/Caribbean and will be very sad to see them go. It's possible we found our Royal class oddball cabin to replace them. + Medallion. Our first Medallion experience, and it was good overall. + The ship just sparkles, yes it's newer than anything else we've sailed by many years, but it's also a big step up in decor and 'glitz'. We enjoyed it. + The Horizon Court / Horizon Bistro were fantastic. My wife HATES buffets but you're forced on port days if staying on board, even she agreed this is the best buffet in memory. Crowds - few. Variety - immense. Seemingly something for everyone. We've never seen anything on Princess that compares. + Staff, with the exception of Crooners (below), were uniformly terrific. + As we mentioned we sailed back-to-back with our turnaround on October 4th. It was our first B2B and it couldn't have been easier, the B2B group was about 75 escorted off at 10:10AM and back on by 10:45AM. The only glitch came when they asked us to come forward for re-boarding, an elite with 4 pieces of luggage sprinted ahead of the group, was taken aside by the should waving his Elite B boarding card all the while - there's always one right? + Club Class dining was very good though the space is divided into two sections one of which is shared one table to the next with ATD which seemed a bit odd. + Coffee (regular old coffee, not latte's cappuccino's or anything special) was really quite acceptable. Not sure what I'll do with my minibar in the future - don't need a coffee card on this ship! Lows: - Our embarkation on September 29th was the worst we've ever experienced. The ship had left Vancouver late on the prior coastal and this was widely cited onboard as the excuse for late boarding BUT the ship arrived at the pier in San Pedro on time so I'm not buying that. I think the problem may have been the fact that Coral was doing a turnaround that same day and perhaps the two good sized ships attempting to get turnover overwhelmed Princess personnel. No matter the cause boarding didn't start for Elites until 12:20 the terminal was shoulder to shoulder by then. Princess had made not one single announcement since we arrived about 10:50 and folks were, let's say grumpy. - The primary entertainment group was a very good troupe of Mariachi's. For the record I LIKE mariachi music and I do recognize these were cruises to Mexico. However, the group played in the Piazza 13 of our 15 evenings on board at the cocktail hour (7:00PM) and they were amplified to maximum volume everywhere in the Piazza. Want a glass of champagne at Bellini's - better find a menu and point - they can't hear you. Want a glass of wine in Vines - point and use hand signals for how many. A martini in Crooners - scream at the top of your lungs into the servers ear. Like to chat with your friends - impossible wait for dinner or head back to Wheelhouse which was always standing room only. Really this is my only substantial disappointment. - We're huge fans of the Sanctuary and the space is beautiful on Royal. The ship was obviously built with this in mind (it's an afterthought on all other classes) it's a lovely space but it was very hot for these Mexico sailings. The gaps around the glass that exist on Grand class ships are replaced by fixed glass on Royal - probably great in Alaska but the absence of even a hint of breeze made most of the space unusable for much of the day. Most folks who paid for Sanctuary ended up huddled in the large gazebo most of the day, not unpleasant, but not what you paid for either. A bit of shade, some fans for air movement or some ventilation would make the space more pleasant. - As I wrote, service was uniformly good with the exception of Crooners. In this lounge the 3 staff assigned were clearly miserable with their assignment. Their attitudes were, to put it very generously, very poor. Service was slow, no matter the day or time, the fact that all 3 behaved the same made me think something awful had happened - they were like whipped puppies. More positively the drinks were well made and always well chilled. Very refreshing. - Access to Club Class dining. As I wrote above CC is in one of the main dining rooms - as always. In this case though the entrance was also shared with the MDR which created huge lines the first several nights. Eventually we were recognized on sight deep in the line and pulled aside. The CC host said "just pass them by" but doing so wasn't easy and felt rude. The solution could have been very simple - Club Class to one size, ATD to the other, but this wasn't the way it was done. Ultimately we just pushed our dinner time back closer to 8:00 by which time the crowd had usually died down. - Medallion. Worked reliably for access and egress. Absolutely didn't work for the wait staff. Every cocktail person asked for "cabin number please". Some bartenders had tablets which showed them who was at the bar - they'd just verify your name. Shops sometimes had you scan your medallion, sometimes just looked at the tablet to confirm who you were. There's so much potential here - but it just isn't being used. On the whole we LOVED the Royal and would book her again anytime. Is she our new favorite - probably not - the Sanctuary issues are a biggie for us and would hold us back except for the coldest itineraries. But would I book her and look forward to her again - absolutely.
  10. Yes, full day is full day. No mid day break, that’s really just to give staff a bit of cushion resetting morning and afternoon bookings.
  11. On Royal at the moment coming to the end of a 15 day b2b. First time on a Royal class ship, was a bit concerned having read numerous negative comments, but my experience couldn’t be more positive. things I like compared to Grand class vessels: * The buffet is head and shoulders superior. Lines are rare except at the busiest of times. Selection is vast and varied. Taco bar was a lunch staple on these cruises, not sure if this is the norm but it solved the problem of the CRUSH we normally experience on Grand on taco day. *. The coffee, really quite drinkable, truly. Not sure what I’ll exchange my mini bar for in the future, totally unnecessary for me to get the coffee card. *. Lotus spa. It makes so much sense to put this on deck 5. The treatment rooms need to be private in any case and putting them on a top deck blocks great views. *. Medallion, this was our first OM cruise. Not fully functional (drink orders taken by cabin number) but still a nice upgrade, the location function is fabulous for finding that lost spouse. *. Total look of the ship is another step up in glitz versus even Ruby. Nice. there were a few nits too, but as this thread asks for positive feedback I’ll save those for my review. I’d book another Royal class ship with no hesitation.
  12. I know this has been mentioned elsewhere but I’ll reiterate, I suggest traditional dining for two reasons. First, this provides predictable timing which is a help planning other meals and snacks. Second, and perhaps more importantly, your wait staff will quickly adapt to the needs of your family. They can speed along meals for the little ones and even anticipate your needs after just a few meals. The suggestion to preview the menu with the kids is also a good idea, things move more smoothly when you’re ready before the questions start (frankly this is good advice for young and old alike). on the whole you’ll find Princess and your fellow passengers warm and welcoming. Enjoy.
  13. Well, I’m on Royal now, Oct 11 and Matt O is definitely still here. For how long, not sure.
  14. We’re currently on Royal and it’s loaded with CG water, boarded in LA on sept 29.
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