Our Royal Princess correspondent Kate Sutton made the round-trip from Southampton to Guernsey on Princess Cruises’ newest ship. Here she reviews her experience on board
Before I went on Royal Princess, I was a cruise virgin. I had a preconceived idea of what a cruise would be like, but I couldn’t have been more wrong – and my maiden voyage was to be on one of the most luxurious and opulent ships afloat.
The first thing that struck me about Royal Princess was the sheer size of the ship. Having only ever sailed on a ferry from Dover to Calais for a booze cruise back in the Nineties, arriving in Southampton and coming face to face with this magnificent vessel was a real shock. I couldn’t wait to explore.
My friend Kate and I were directed to our stateroom and just as with the check-in procedure, everything ran like clockwork. Security was reassuringly tight, staff were polite and efficient.
I had imagined a tiny cabin but actually it had plenty of room: twin beds, a TV bigger than the one I have at home, and a small, but perfectly formed bathroom with enough shelves to handle all the beauty accoutrements of two women travelling alone, and we were lucky enough to have a balcony on which to watch the world go by.
We dropped our suitcases off and made our way to our first port of call – one of the many bars. The only trouble was there was too much choice. Should we have a soft drink? A beer? Probably, at some point.
Or should we treat ourselves to a cocktail? We figured that it was five o’clock somewhere in the world and ordered two Mojitos from the SeaView Bar, opposite the SeaWalk. And then two more for the road (or the sea).
One of the things that we were most looking forward to was our visit to the Lotus Spa. Being pampered is probably a once a year treat for me so I couldn’t wait to book in for my Elemis Deep Tissue Massage.
We were given a tour of the spa beforehand, with its rainforest waterfall and heated water beds, and then our therapists showed us to our treatment rooms. The next hour and a half went by in a blurry haze of relaxation and scented oils.
We left the spa and floated around the Piazza, the gold and marble decorated atrium and the focal point of this ship, which spans several floors.
We toyed with trying out one of the many swimming pools that are dotted around – there’s even an adults-only pool on the top deck – but, alas, the British weather scuppered our plans.
They’re so appealing though that, had the sun been shining, I could have seen myself luxuriating on a lounger, reading a magazine for hours.
After much deliberation, I braved the SeaWalk, ever so slowly, and not looking down.
It was definitely time for us to think about dinner and I think one of the many plus points about going on a cruise is the variety of food on offer. Oh, and the fact that you can eat what you want, how much you want and when you want.
I have to admit we took full advantage. It’s not often that I’m not on Chief Cook and Bottlewasher duty so we headed over to the Concerto dining room.
We were surprised to see the staff lined up either side of us at the entrance to the restaurant. At home, I’m lucky if I get a “Hello Mum” from my youngest. But on Royal Princess, the staff stand and greet you – they say “hello” and wish you a pleasant evening. I think it’s something I’ll introduce.
So, what can I say about the food? Imagine going out for a special birthday dinner with your family. You’ve saved up and bought a new dress for the occasion. Well that’s what it’s like going for dinner on Royal Princess – every night.
The food was delicious, freshly cooked to order, and always delivered with a smile and some friendly banter. We tried every restaurant on board, just to make sure.
In the evenings, we were entertained by magicians, ventriloquists, singers, bands, The Beatles tribute acts, Champagne fountains, jugglers and men balancing on top of each other (a particular favourite). We ate club sandwiches at 3am while watching films in our cabin and, although we didn’t visit the casino, we did hit the dancefloor at Club 6, and may have just partaken in a little duty-free shopping.
As a first-time cruiser, I don’t think I could have asked for a better experience on a more brilliant ship. Would I go on a cruise again? Just try and stop me.
Whether you’re looking for a cultural holiday or relaxing break, find your perfect cruise here.