We were on a 4-day repositioning cruise from Vancouver, BC to Los Angeles, CA on the Royal Princess (fun fact: it was christened by the real Princess, Kate Middleton) with Princess Cruises in September. We got a balcony room for a really good price and since we wanted to visit LA for a few days, this itinerary worked out perfectly for us. This cruise did not have any port which was common for repositioning itinerary and I believe was part of the reason why it was very affordable.
This was my second cruise (the first one was a 6-day China/Japan itinerary with Royal Carribean this summer) and Eric’s first. One of the biggest let down for me on my Royal Carribean cruise was the quality of the food so I had mentally prepared Eric for his first as we both love eating (definitely not a foodie in the fine dining sense but we just get hungry often).
Lucky for both of us, the food on the Royal Princess was much better than expected. We enjoyed the 24-hour cafe, the buffet and even though less so, not because of the food quality but rather the slow pace, the dining rooms. Entertainment-wise, we kept ourselves entertained with the impressive in-room movie selection, Movie under the Stars, the hot tub and the performance at the lounges.
Cost for the Royal Princess
I don’t normally detail cost for my travels as I think it fluctuates too much depending on the season, time and promotions but because I think the cost for cruises has many components that are not apparent to first-time cruisers, I am including it here for reference. For reference, I spent ~$1,500 CAD on my onboard account for my Royal Carribean cruise between my mom and myself which was in addition to the cruise price and taxes. The cost of a cruise vacation definitely goes beyond the cruise price.
Other charges to account for (these prices are specific to this cruise but I believe they are comparable to other cruise lines)
Room on the Royal Princess – C304 Category BB
We took our chances and booked a guaranteed balcony room. Guaranteed rooms are often cheaper because you basically pay for the lowest category of room you will be happy with and the cruise line has the right to assign you any room in the category you paid for or in a better category anytime between your booking to before sailing. Since we booked only a week or so before sailing, we were assigned the room almost immediately after payment.
We were assigned an accessible balcony room on the Caribe Deck (level 10). This room was about double in width than a non-accessible room in this category and had a larger balcony.
We were happy with its location (only steps away from the elevators) and the size but my sleep was affected negatively by some sort of mechanical noise the entire trip. It did not impact Eric at all so if you are a heavy sleeper, you will have no trouble sleeping. There was minimal noise from upstairs and the hallway despite its proximity to the elevators.
The Caribe Deck is a guestroom deck meaning we were not on the same deck as any dining or attractions. This did not bother us however as the wait for an elevator was never long and the stairs were always an option.
Even though the decoration of the room was not our style, the Royal Princess was refurbished in Dec 2018 with new beds. The position of the TV did make it difficult to watch TV during the day with the curtains open as the glare was too bad.
I was glad we were assigned a bigger room as we saw some of the regular balcony rooms and they were petite. It might be fine for a short trip like ours but if it was a 7-day+ itinerary, I would suggest splurging on a Mini-Suite or above if you like to spend lots of time in your room like us.
We also really enjoyed the balcony and thought it was worth every penny!
Dining Options on the Royal Princess
The buffet was open from 5 AM to 11 PM during our cruise and the international cafe was open 24/7. The dining rooms were open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the fast food was mostly open at 11 AM.
The Buffet – Horizon Court/Bistro
The Cafe – International Cafe
The Fast Food – Pizzeria, Trident Grill, Swirls, Gelato*
The Dining Rooms – Allergro, Symphony, Concerta, Alfredo’S
The Lounges – Sea View Bar*, Crooners*, Wheelhouse Bar*, Vibes*
The Specialty Restaurants – Sabatini’s*
Entertainment Options on the Royal Princess
Movies under the Stars
Performers at Lounges
Fitness Center & Sports Court
Pools and Hot Tubs
As mentioned, the quality of the food on the Royal Princess way exceeded our expectations. I was glad that the buffet opened late and that there was a 24/7 option for my caffeine needs and late-night cravings. We did not make it to any of the shows at the Princess Theatre and Princess Live this time but we were kept entertained between meals by a drink or two at the lounges, the in-room movies and Movies under the Star.