Royal Princess Mediterranean Mosaic Cruise May 1997
This was my fifteenth cruise (I am 38), my first European cruise, and my second Princess cruise. My other cruises have been on Carnival (5), Royal Caribbean (5), Dolphin (2), NCL (1), and Princess (1). All previous cruises were Caribbean, Trans-Canal, or Alaskan cruises. Needless to say, I was extremely excited about this cruise, as I had been very impressed with the cruise experience I had on the Sun Princess Alaska Inside Passage in May 1996, and was anxious to see if the Royal Princess is on the same level as the Sun Princess.
EMBARKATIONMy traveling companion, Carol and I had arranged our own airfare. After a long flight, with take off delayed by over two hours due to a mechanical malfunction, we finally landed in Athens, Greece. We were greeted by Princess staff and directed to customs and luggage pickup. There were an abundance of Princess personnel to assist passengers with the entire process, customs, baggage claim and transport to the ship. The overall process went very smoothly, and soon busloads of very tired people were on their way to the ship. The adrenaline began to flow as we approached Pireaus and saw the sleek profile of the Royal Princess. She is truly a beautiful vessel and was sitting majestically in the midst of various other cruise ships, freighters, and ferry-boats.
Check-in was very smooth and went very quickly. The longest part of this process was waiting for the local customs agent to stamp our passports. After our picture was taken, we were escorted to our cabin, C614, an obstructed view stateroom.
THE SHIPI was not disappointed in the Royal Princess. While not the newest and glitziest ship sailing the seas, she is the most comfortable ship on which I have ever sailed. She is spacious and sedately elegant, offering abundant public rooms and deck space for all passengers. I never once felt crowded while onboard this classic ship.
The majority of public rooms are located mid-level on the ship. The two show lounges, featuring nightly shows, are large and spacious. The Princess Court allows for passengers to lounge and watch the sea pass by, the ship come into dock, or enjoy the local scenery from the climate-controlled comfort of this two story courtyard. It has a spiral staircase to the lower level where the restaurant and purser desk is located. On this level, you will find the giftshop. While not reminiscent of the shipboard shopping malls currently found on the megaliners, there was a very nice variety of both logo and non-logo items, as well as essentials and gift items.
There are three pools and ample deck space for lounging. Also located here is the gym, which was appointed nicely. The only time I used it was when I discovered that I could not fit into my tux. Also located on top of the ship is the best place on ship, a wonderful lounge that provides a panoramic view. At night it becomes the disco.
The decor is very pleasing to the eye, mostly in pastel hues. I detected no overtly worn carpet or soiled upholstery. The ship, both its interior and exterior, was kept meticiously clean. Railings, floors and glass gleamed and the public restrooms were spotless. The crew was constantly busy cleaning and/or painting during the entire cruise.
THE CABINSince I don't normally spend much time in my cabin while onboard ship, the fact that my assigned cabin had an obstructed view did not bother me. The obstruction was a lifeboat hanging outside the room, between our deck and the one above us. While sitting on the bed or on the chair, one could see out of the cabin just fine. The cabin was a nice size, with twin beds against the window (one which folded up during the day) with a nice sized table. The writing desk/vanity was plenty large with a nice amount of drawer space. Since both Carol and I are clothes hounds, I was worried about the closet space, but there was plenty to spare. There was a safe and a refrigerator.
The bathroom was a nice size with a tub/shower combination, large vanity with sink and toilet, the basic amenities.
THE FOODAs with all cruises, there was always an abundance of food. The breakfast and lunch buffets offered in the Lido Cafe were delicious and varied from day to day, unlike many ships. It was presented in a pleasing manner to the eye and palate. The atmosphere was very enjoyable and one of the most delightful aspects was the fact that the Lido converts to a Bistro Pizzeria in the evening, giving passengers the opportunity to enjoy a more informal meal. No matter what time you are hungry, the Lido is open 24 hours a day to provide you with whatever your stomach desires. Meals served in the restaurant were equally delicious and varied, served with flair, and the staff equally attentive to our needs and wishes.
PORTS/SHORE EXCURSIONSThis was a port intensive cruise. Beginning in Athens, Greece, we cruised to Santorini, a Greek Isle; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Livorno (Florence), Italy; Cannes, France; Barcelona, Spain; Gibraltar; Lisbon, Portugal, LaCaruna, Spain and disembarked in Dover, England.
The shore excursions offered by the cruise line were bound to satisfy a wide variety of passenger tastes. They were reasonably priced, highly organized and executed in an efficient manner and offered the maximum amount of sightseeing for the port time. Departures went on schedule almost to the moment as noted in the published excursion literature.
ENTERTAINMENTThe evening shows were superb, especially the revue shows by the dancers. This troupe of young and energetic people presented highly entertaining shows. These were among the best I have seen on any of my cruises. There were the usual daily activities that I avoid, but which seem to be a cruise ship staple. The cruise staff were also highly energetic and were friendly and eager to make new acquaintances. The wait staff aimed to please, especially those in the Bistro in the evening, our gratitude to Giavonni, Adi and Antonio, you helped to make our trip fabulous.
Overall, the cruise was fabulous, far surpassing my expectations. Rating the ship in the realm of service, maintenance and food, I would definitely give it higher marks than the Legend of the Seas on which I sailed in January 97.
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