12 Night Scandinavia Cruise aboard Royal Princess — CruiseReport.com (2023)

Itinerary: Copenhagen, Oslo, Gothenburg, Warnemunde, At Sea, Tallin, St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, At Sea, Copenhagen

Never has a television show launched an entire industry into the spotlight like The Love Boat did for the cruise industry in the 70s and 80s. I can still remember watching every week as Captain Stubing, Doc, Julie and Isaac sailed to every exotic location aboard the Pacific Princess. At the heart of the series was romance, hence the name "Love" boat. An entire generation began to associate cruising and romance. Therefore, when trying to decide where Rickee and I would celebrate being together for twenty years, there was only one logical choice: The Love Boat!

Cruising has changed a lot since the 70s. The Pacific Princes (20,000 tons) from the TV show would look like a lifeboat next to the new Royal Princess (142,000 tons). The Princess Theater on Royal Princess can hold more than twice the number of people of the original Pacific Princess. But what about the romance factor? Is it still possible to find and/or nurture "love" on a boat that holds 3,800 people?

Our 11-night Baltic cruise is a round-trip sailing from Copenhagen, Denmark. Copenhagen is worthy of a pre-/post-cruise stay of a couple of days. Princess offers pre-/post-cruise options here and guests traveling from the USA, Canada or Australia should seriously consider at least two extra days here. You need one day just to shed the jet lag, and another day to explore the city. If we were rating destinations from 1 to 5, we would probably give this itinerary a 4. This is a port-intensive itinerary with only two sea days out of eleven. For more details on the ports we visited, check our daily cruise blog. The highlights, in our opinion, are St. Petersburg, Russia, Tallin, Estonia and Stockholm, Sweden*. The asterisk (*) on Stockholm is because, due to her massive size, Royal Princess has to tender guests into Nynashmn, Sweden, then further transfer guests into Stockholm on motor coaches. This adds a cost of $59 per person just to get to Stockholm and takes away about three hours of port time.

Royal Princess

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The Royal Princess is one of the newest ships in the Princess fleet, eclipsed only by her younger sister, Regal Princess. Royal is just over a year old (at the time of our sailing), and, as you would expect, still looks shiny and new. At 142,000 tons, Royal is among some of the largest ships afloat. In keeping with most modern ship designs, interior public spaces are located on Decks 5, 6 and 7. Outdoor decks are 16 (Lido), 17, and 18. There are two standout features of Royal Princess: the Skywalk, a semi-oval structure that extends out from Deck 16 allowing guests to walk on a glass walkway as they look down and see the ocean rushing below them; and the massive HD video screen mounted on Deck 18 and visible to those on the Lido Deck (16) and Deck 17.

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The interior of the ship is beautiful, albeit a bit more understated than say, MSC Divina. Where MSC goes for a more "blingy" look, Royal Princess' decor is understated elegance. The most visual impact is in The Piazza on Deck 5 with marble, brass and LED lighting and expansive and open views of Decks 6 and 7 in a "centrum" of sorts. There are several bars and dining venues on Decks 5, 6 and 7 that look into The Piazza, making it a hub of activity. This area can get noisy during peak periods, especially when entertainers crank up the music in The Piazza on Deck 5.

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Sun lovers will enjoy massive amounts of open deck space and plenty of loungers on Decks 16, 17 and 18. The ship is very well equipped for the Caribbean and Mediterranean markets in the summertime. There are some kids-only areas that are so well segregated that we never even saw them. In fact, even with more than 500 children on this cruise, they were never an annoyance to the adult couples like us, an indication that Princess' kids' programs are working perfectly.

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For adult cruisers who want to ensure that no "rug rats" interfere with their solitude, Royal Princess offers The Retreat Pool and Bar on Deck 17 forward. This adults-only area has a nice pool, many loungers and even four semi-private cabanas which are available to rent. The cabanas here are tent-like structures with fabric that can cover three sides. Two padded loungers are inside each cabana and are a definite upgrade from the standard loungers. These cabanas are available for $50 (half day) or $80 (full day). Guests can reserve the cabanas by going to Deck 17 forward and speaking with The Sanctuary steward on duty. It is possible to reserve a cabana for the entire cruise. Princess also offers some very nice "picnic baskets" for cabana guests.

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However, for the ultimate in privacy and luxury, The Sanctuary is located all the way forward on Deck 17. Whereas any adult can access The Retreat for free, The Sanctuary is reserved for guests paying a $40 per day fee ($20 for half a day). Here, guests enjoy the upgraded, padded sun loungers positioned in the sun or shade, and access to shaded seating areas to escape the sun if necessary. Sanctuary stewards are available to deliver food and drinks to Sanctuary guests. Complimentary cucumber water or citrus water is available for the asking. There is a special Sanctuary menu with specialty food items. The food is complimentary; however, there is a nominal $3 service fee for delivery.

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The best of the best are the private cabanas found in The Sanctuary. These cabanas are as nice (or nicer) than you will find in any 5-star beach resort. They are solid structures, slatted on the sides to let air flow through. The front of the cabanas is open, but there are drapes that can be closed for more privacy. Each cabana has its own large, flat-screen, HD television with access to all of the ship's programming. There is a sofa that can comfortably seat three adults and there is an additional padded chair. The wicker coffee table is large enough to hold lunch for three or four. Complimentary bathrobes and extra pool towels are provided. Two Bose® Quiet Comfort™ noise-cancelling headsets can be hooked up to the provided iPods which have been pre-loaded with a selection of playlists. Alternatively, you can connect the headsets to wireless receivers to listen to the TV programming. A large speaker mounted inside the cabin would indicate that Princess tried using ambient sound for the televisions and, most likely, found that it disturbed other Sanctuary guests looking for peace and quiet. The wireless system worked perfectly. Two padded and luxurious Sanctuary loungers are positioned in the cabana's "front yard", so to speak. The idea is to lounge in the sun, and retreat to the cabana for some shade and refreshment when things get too hot. That refreshment comes in the form of complimentary soft drinks, candy and bottled water stocked in the mini-fridge.

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For something more substantial, Sanctuary Stewards are always available to fetch your favorite cocktail or beverage from The Retreat Bar right next door, or food items from the Sanctuary menu. It would seem that Princess has thought of everything... well, almost everything. The cabanas (and Sanctuary Loungers for that matter) should have a small waste basket or trash bag. A call button to request a steward would also be helpful. Stewards are stationed at the entrance on the starboard side of The Sanctuary. If your cabana is on the port side, as ours was, you either have to wait for a steward to make his rounds, or you have to get up and walk around to the steward station. Also, what amenities actually are provided with the cabanas is still a bit of a mystery. We ordered two cocktails, Rickee's was full price, while mine was significantly discounted. Also, we received our choice of a complimentary small bottle of liquor, presumably to enjoy in the cabana but we did not receive it until we only had about 45 minutes left to enjoy the cabana. All of these shortcomings are minor, and easily addressed by Princess. In spite of the nit-picking, our half-day in the private cabana was one of the highlights of the entire cruise. Sanctuary cabanas rent for $220 for a full day or $140 for 1/2 day.

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“The cabanas book fast, so don’t wait to reserve one. This should probably be the first thing you do when you get on board. Go to Deck 17 forward, walk through The Retreat Pool to The Sanctuary Steward station which is the only place you can make a reservation. Also, consider booking a cabana or Sanctuary lounger on a port day. We did this in St. Petersburg since we had visited there only last year. We had the entire Sanctuary to ourselves!”

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While the rest of us are exercising our jaw muscles at Horizon Court or Prego's Pizzeria, the healthy among us can sculpt their bodies in The Fitness Center on Deck 17 aft. Here you can find just about any torture device (exercise equipment) you could possibly want. A Sports Deck (18) has a basketball court, table tennis, a putting green and a jogging/walking track. Interestingly, the Fitness Center is 12 decks above the Lotus Spa, which is next to Reception on Deck 5 forward. So, if you want to hit The Enclave for some soothing steam or sauna after your workout, you will get a bit more exercise as you hoof it down to Deck 5. You will also find a variety of fitness activities being held throughout the ship, such as Zumba in Princess LIVE! studio.

The Casino on Deck 6 is open to take your donations when the ship is not in port. You will find lots of slots, even penny slots. When you play a slot machine and insert your key card into the designated spot, you accumulate points, I am not sure what the points are good for, but I have about 73 of them. Slot winnings are posted to your electronic "Bank" allowing you to move to another machine and play with your bank balance. You can retrieve the cash from your "bank account" at any time from the cashier. There are craps, roulette and blackjack tables on the starboard side of the casino. The place really gets hopping in the evenings, and is the only place on the ship we smelled cigarette smoke. Interesting, since I am certain on day one, they announced no smoking allowed anywhere inside the ship. However, we did notice in the Princess Patter that one particular night was designated as "No Smoking Night in the Casino".

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There are token-operated self-serve laundrettes on each floor with dispensers for detergent. We determined the cost to do a load of laundry to be about $5. The ship also has full laundry services available for reasonable prices. I sent out a pair of jeans and two shirts for $11.50 and they were returned the next day. On the last sea day, Princess ran a promotion where you could stuff a laundry bag as full as you could and have your laundry done for $20.

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Our only real complaint with the ship was the elevator situation. Elevators were slow and very crowded. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of amidships stairs from Decks 8 through 16. This problem is most noticeable for guests whose staterooms are closest to the amidships elevators. If your stateroom is closer to the aft or forward elevators, the problem is not as apparent. Our stateroom was closest to the amidships elevators, so we really noticed the issue. If guests are trying to get from Decks 5, 6 or 7 (public areas) to their amidships staterooms on Decks 8 through 15, they are forced to use the elevators. Our stateroom was on Deck 15 (Marina). Guests who might normally walk up two or three flights of stairs to get to Deck 8, 9 or 10 have to use the elevator which causes two issues: One, the elevators get overcrowded, and Two, the elevators stop on nearly every floor on the way up or down. Another scenario: we were on Deck 15, just one deck below the Lido (pool) deck. If we want to go to the pool (amidships) or to Horizon Bistro, or Prego Pizza or Seaview Bar (you get the idea), taking the elevator was not an option because, by the time it reached Deck 15, it was crammed full of other guests from lower decks heading to Deck 16. The same was true if you wanted to take the elevator down from Deck 15 during meal time. The elevators coming down from Deck 16 where the buffet is located were usually packed full with guests. If you were lucky enough to board the elevator, you were treated to stops at each and every deck on the way down.

After a couple of days of fighting this, we found ourselves walking all the way forward or aft to use those elevators or stairs, then making the long walk to our amidships stateroom. The elevator overcrowding was the only complaint we heard from other guests. The solution? Since it is unlikely that Princess is going to get out the cutting torch and add a stairwell to this brand new ship, try to book a stateroom closer to the forward or aft elevators/stairs. Problem solved.

Our Deluxe Balcony Stateroom (M509) was located on Marina Deck 15. When we initially boarded the ship on embarkation day, we were told that our stateroom was M509 but it was not apparent that the "M" stood for Marina Deck. Also, when we got in the elevator, there are only numbers (4-16). We did not know that Marina Deck was Deck 15. Of course, a bit of studying before we got on the ship would have solved the problem, but it was weird getting into a crowded elevator and not knowing where we were going.

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At 225 sq. ft., the Deluxe Balcony Stateroom is compact but efficient. The queen-size bed has a nice padded headboard. There is a small desk with three electrical outlets (2-110 volt US-style and 1-220 Euro-style). A small mini-fridge is located next to the desk. There is a space above the mini-fridge for an ice bucket, bottled water, etc. The closet is an open design with no doors. There is a small column of shelves and the safe behind a narrow door. The only drawers are in the two nightstands.

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Our room steward, Antonio, greeted us shortly after our arrival and kept our stateroom in good order. The only slip-up was the mini-bar setup. We requested diet Cokes to be stocked in the fridge twice and they never showed up. We finally called room service to order Cokes and Diet Cokes, but then we had to pay a delivery charge. We were a little surprised that the mini-bar was not checked and serviced every day. Once we mentioned it to Antonio, the fridge was kept stocked.

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The bathroom is small, but the shower stall is comfortable enough for most American adults to utilize. The water pressure was woefully inadequate, perhaps a measure to conserve water? Shampoo and shower gel are provided in pump bottles mounted to the wall of the shower. There is no hair conditioner provided.

A large flat-screen television is mounted to the wall opposite the bed. The television programming is some of the best we have seen on any ship. There is a selection of live television (ESPN, Fox News, MSNBC, Engage, etc.), some on-demand movies, and programming from the ship's closed-circuit system, which is also available on demand. Most events held in the Princess LIVE! onboard television studio get broadcast over the ship's closed circuit system along with all port lectures.

The bed was comfortable enough with excellent linens and comfortable pillows. Most importantly, the room was quiet. We were never awakened by the ubiquitous slamming stateroom doors found on most ships. There were no annoying squeaks or rattles. The only noise we heard was an occasional chair or other equipment being moved around on Deck 16 above us. I think our room was below Horizon Bistro.

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The balcony is small, but functional. There were two chairs that had a semi-recline feature and a small table. I am not sure the balcony would be a comfortable place to enjoy anything more than a sail-away cocktail or continental breakfast. But, for watching the scenery go by, it was great. Since our stateroom was located on Deck 15, underneath the Lido deck, there was a large overhang that extended out over our balcony, completely blocking any sunlight. So, if you like to catch a few rays on your balcony, don't book a stateroom on Marina Deck (15).

All in all, I would rate the Deluxe Balcony Stateroom 3.5 out of 5 stars. Possibly 4 stars if it were not located under the Lido deck.

Keeping up to 3,800 guests entertained is no small task. However, Cruise Director, Lisa Ball, and her team did the job admirably. The ship has a variety of musicians performing in various venues each evening. The Princess Theater (Decks 6 & 7 forward) is the ship's large theater where all production shows are held, usually twice each evening. The theater is not as glitzy as you might find on some other large ships, but the seating is comfortable, sight lines are reasonably good, with some views of the elevated stage encumbered by fellow guests who sit in front of you. This is only an issue if you sit in the first 7 to 10 rows in front of the stage as there is very little slope. We always sit close to the stage so we can get photos for the blog.

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The stage is large and has all of the modern features including rotating turntable. I did not notice any elevator platforms during the performances I attended. A live band provided backup to the recorded sound tracks, which always makes for a more lively performance. There were four vocalists in the troupe of Royal Princess Singers and Dancers and all were good. Based on the shows we attended, the dance routines seemed a bit subdued and the costumes were not as elaborate as we have seen on some other large ships. The same could be said for the set designs. We left the production shows feeling entertained, but not "wowed" by any performance.

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The guest entertainers were excellent. Neil Lockwood did an excellent Elton John show that had everyone pumped up. Italian magician, David Cats, also delivered an excellent show. The best show of the cruise, in our opinion, was the "walk on" Russian Folkloric show performed by the Moroshka Folkloric group. The treated us to great music, exciting dance numbers and some colorful, traditional costumes.

The Vista Lounge is the ship's show lounge located on Deck 7 aft. This venue is smaller than Princess Theater but offers a more "up-close" experience with very comfortable sofa-style seating with tables and full bar waiter service.

Princess LIVE! is the ship's television studio which is used for a variety of game shows and contests. This is as close as you can get to being in a real live television studio audience. Princess LIVE! is used for trivia games and other guest-interactive game shows, like Marriage Match. Deputy Cruise Director Toby and Asst. Cruise Directors Nat, Gary, and David provide hilarious comedic relief for anyone attending these shows. We found Princess LIVE! to be one of the most innovative and entertaining venues we have ever experienced. Most activities held here are recorded and replayed on the ship's on-demand closed circuit television system. So, if you miss a live show, you can watch it in your stateroom later. What a great idea!

On this cruise, the destination was one of the biggest attractions. The Shore Excursion department was cranking out local excursions like crazy. They did an admirable job of getting a large number of guests on and off the ship when in port. Princess offers a vast number of shore excursions in each port, and we found the prices to be pretty typical for today's cruise ships.

For the geeks, like me, Royal Princess offers Wi-Fi internet throughout the ship. However, I am sad to say that the performance overall was disappointing. Even though the signal was available throughout most of the cruise, the speeds were very slow, even by cruise ship standards. There were several days that I was forced to take my laptop ashore and find a local coffee shop with Wi-Fi just to post our daily blog. The system on the ship just did not have the bandwidth necessary. And, it did not seem to matter where on the ship I tried to connect. Even email was a chore. I was never even able to get Gmail to come up completely. Sadly, it was one of the worse Internet connections we have seen on a newer ship. For the 11-day cruise I used a total of 850 minutes of Internet. Granted, I used a lot more Internet than the typical guest.

On the bright side, Princess has an amazing intranet that lets you do all sorts of things. You can see details on all of the ship's venues, restaurant menus, prices, etc. You can also check your stateroom account balance and it gets updated almost instantly. Accessing the ships intranet is free and is very well designed. We would take our iPad mini with us every time we left the stateroom, and we could easily see what activities were going on all over the ship. This is the best intranet we have seen on any ship so far.

As we always like to remind our readers, reviewing food is almost impossible. Everyone has different tastes, so what we like may not be what you like. Even Rickee and I disagree on things she likes that I dislike, and vice versa. Nevertheless, no review would be complete without talking about the food and dining experience. Royal Princess offers so many choices when it comes to dining that you could literally dine in a different venue each evening of an 11-night cruise.

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Overall, we found the food on Royal Princess to be good, a definite step above "average". The best meals were dinner at Crown Grill, The Wine Maker's Dinner, lunch in Horizon Court and surprisingly, the pizza at Prego's Pizzeria. The afternoon and evening salads and sandwiches at The International Cafe were also very good. And, every bread and pastry we had on this cruise was outstanding.

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We had dinner the first night in Concerto Dining Room using our Anytime Dining option. Typically, Symphony and Concerto dining rooms are reserved for traditional dining (6:30 and 8:15) until 8:30pm when Concerto opens for Anytime Dining guests. So, we are not sure why we were able to get a table in Concerto at 7:30pm on embarkation day. Allegro, on the other hand, is reserved for Anytime Dining throughout the evening. Our table was a table for four, set up for only two people. It was located next to a window, so we had a nice view of the ocean during dinner. Service was unhurried, but not slow. There was plenty of time between courses to enjoy conversation and our glasses of wine. We never felt rushed. Food quality was good, and service was very good.

The International Cafe

This is one of the best venues on Royal Princess. The International Cafe is open 24 hours a day and is a combination coffee shop and snack bar. This was where I went for coffee every morning around 5:00 am to 5:30am. Anton and Rebecca were there each morning to take care of me. There is a charge for coffee here, but it is worth the price for the convenience and the quiet atmosphere of The Piazza at that time of the morning.

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Horizon Court/Bistro

The ship's Lido buffet is divided into two distinct, but similar, sections. Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro are located on Deck 16 with the "Bistro" being located just forward of the "Court". You literally walk from one into the other, often without even knowing it. Both have buffet-style, self-serve lines with a wide variety of food choices throughout the day. Continental breakfast is available here as early as 5am with full buffet breakfast beginning at 6am. Lunch is served most days at 11:30am and a sub-section of Horizon Court also serves a casual buffet dinner beginning at 5:30pm. Coffee and tea stations are open 24 hours a day.

Princess Cruises has taken guest safety very seriously with the installation of hand-washing stations at the entrances to Horizon Court/Bistro. This is in addition to numerous Purell hand-sanitizing dispensers located throughout the food service areas (and the entire ship).

The dining room decor is slightly different between Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro, with the Bistro being a tad more upscale. All tables are set with linen napkins and silverware in both venues, a welcome upgrade from most mainstream cruise ship buffets. Waiters are on hand to take drink orders, or bring water, tea or coffee. And, service on our visits was excellent. Even more notable is that the coffee served here in the mornings is not only drinkable, it is actually pretty good!

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As with most buffets, traffic flow can be cumbersome as guests move in different directions trying to find all of the different offerings. Some items are duplicated on port and starboard sides of the serving lines, but then there are some items that may only be served on one or the other. For example, if you want roasted veggies or Gyros, that is only served on the port side of the Bistro forward. Mexican, Asian and Indian dishes were available each day. And, rotisserie chicken is being roasted fresh, right in front of you at Horizon Bistro's forward port side entrance. There are carving stations at different locations with a variety of meats. Of course, there are salads, breads, fresh fruit and desserts. I did not see an omelet station at breakfast, but they did have fried eggs, scrambled, soft-boiled and even breakfast burritos.

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There are several two-top tables and dining "bars" where singles can sit and enjoy their meal without taking up an entire table. There are also a large number of outdoor dining tables set for each meal, perhaps more than we have seen on any ship to date. So, if you enjoy dining al fresco, Royal Princess is the place to be. We found the food quality to be as good or better than any cruise ship buffet. And, here is a little detail that Princess has figured out. Princess has wisely replaced the 'always clogged' salt shakers you typically find on outdoor tables with packets of salt and pepper. Finally! Sure, the packets are cheesy, but they work!

Fondues and Crab Shack

These two dining experiences are actually held on alternate evenings in a special section of Horizon Court (Deck 16 aft). Reservations are required, as is a $20 per person cover charge. Fondues offers a three-course meal with the highlight being the melted cheese fondue pot for dipping bread, chicken or sausage. We dined in Fondues on the last night of the cruise and found it to be a unique experience that we can recommend to others. You can read more about our meal at Fondues on our cruise blog.

We did not have the opportunity to try Crab Shack. Neither of us are huge shellfish fans, so it was not for us. However, Crab Shack offers guests a three-course meal.

Alfredo's Pizzeria

Alfredo's is a sit-down, full-service restaurant serving handmade pizza, calzone and other Italian specialties. The emphasis here is on the upscale pizzas. We had lunch here one day and found the pizzas to be good, fresh, hot and crispy. There is no service charge to dine in Alfredo's and we were surprised that we never saw the restaurant crowded. You can read about our meal at Alfredo's on our cruise blog.

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Sabatini's

Sabatini's is Princess' upscale Italian-themed restaurant. We made reservations in Sabatini's for our second night on board Royal Princess. We arrived at 7:30pm and were surprised to find the restaurant only about half occupied. Unfortunately, all of the window tables were occupied, so we were seated at a window with a view of the Reception Desk, a bit strange. It costs $25 per person to dine in Sabatini's and reservations are required. The atmosphere alone is worth the cover charge, but honestly, the food was not as good as what we had in the Crown Grill.

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Crown Grill

Probably the best meal we had on Royal Princess was dinner at Crown Grill (Deck 7 aft). I can't think of a better venue on a cruise ship to celebrate a 20-year anniversary. This dark, classy, steakhouse is a bargain at $25 per person. The scallop starter alone would cost $12 at any restaurant on land. My Rib Eye steak was massive and perfectly cooked. The steak was flavorful enough that the wine reduction it was resting on only detracted from the flavor. Rickee's filet was a fist-sized chunk of fork-tender beef that, too, was cooked perfectly. The garlicky creamed spinach was seasoned perfectly. We decided to skip dessert, but were presented with a special anniversary cake along with a "Happy Anniversary" song from our excellent waitress, Grace. A cruise aboard Royal Princess is not complete without at least one visit to Crown Grill.

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Ultimate Balcony Dining

Princess offers an evening meal served course-by-course, on your stateroom balcony. The cost for this is $100 per person and is considered by many to be the ultimate in intimate private dining. We did not avail ourselves of this simply because we felt like our balcony would be a bit cramped to enjoy it. This must be reserved in advance. For more information, click here.

Wine Maker's Dinner

The Wine Maker's Dinner is a special wine-pairing meal available to only a select few guests who make reservations in advance. Basically, you put your name on a list and they will let you know if you are able to get seats at this very limited table. The cost for this special meal is $40 per person, and a real bargain for what it delivers. You can read all about our meal at Wine Maker's on our cruise blog.

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Ocean Terrace Seafood

The Ocean Terrace seafood bar (Deck 6 overlooking The Piazza) on the Royal Princess offers a variety of seafood priced a la carte. Here you will find sushi, sashimi, ahi tuna, oyster shooters and king crab.

Prego's Pizzeria

Prego's is Royal Princess' pizza-by-the-slice joint located on Deck 16 (Lido deck). But hold on, this isn't the typical greasy, cold, tasteless pizza you typically find at a cruise ship pool, this is the real deal. In fact, I liked Prego's pizza better than Alfredo's! The large slices were hot, cheesy and delicious. They make the dough fresh every day, every pizza is made by hand, and they have pepperoni, something you won't find in Alfredo's! I could not walk by Prego's without grabbing a slice.

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Less impressive than Prego's is Royal Princess' burger joint, Trident Grill. I tried two burgers here (on different days) and both seemed a bit dry. And, there were no Onion Rings, a personal pet peeve of mine. But, admittedly, I am a bit of a burger snob. So, if the long line is any indication, a lot of guests seem to be enjoying their offerings. Trident Grill is on Deck 16 (Lido) amidships starboard side.

Gelato

Gelato is Royal Princess' ice cream parlor located on Deck 5 right on The Piazza. Of course, you can get a free soft-serve cone at Swirl's up on Deck 16, but you won't get the same creamy Italian-style gelato that you get here. Several flavors are available, including my personal favorite, Dulce de Leche. You can get three dips for $2.75, a bargain price. A variety of sundaes are also available for $2.75 each. I just wish they offered a single dip for, say $1.50. I rarely need three full dips of gelato. Nevertheless, the gelato served here is delicious.

Room service

Princess offers room service 24 hours a day with a decent menu of sandwiches, salads, soup and desserts. Food is complimentary, but there is a nominal delivery charge on all orders.

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There is no shortage of watering holes on Royal Princess. During our 11-night cruise, we had the opportunity to visit most of them at least once. Overall, bar service was very good throughout the ship. We never had to wait long for a waiter/ess to take our order or deliver our cocktail. As far as drink prices, they are pretty much in line with other major cruise lines. A Dewar's White Label is $6.25, a glass of sparkling wine can be enjoyed for $7.25, a glass of wine at Vines will range from $7.25 to $12 a glass, and, a Pina Colada will set you back about $8.95. Of course, these prices do not include the 15% gratuity which is added automatically. The pours were more generous than what we experienced on MSC Divina earlier this year, for about the same price per drink, making Princess a better value. The frozen drinks and designer cocktails were all delicious. We did not have a bad drink on Royal Princess.

Vines (5)

Vines is Royal Princess' wine bar which quickly became one of our favorite spots for a pre-dinner glass of wine. This is one of the classiest lounges on the ship with dark wood accents highlighted by a wall of wine bottles. The real kicker is that they offer 26 different wines by the glass. And, to enhance the enjoyment of your glass of wine, they serve tapas each evening with every wine order. Vines also is a full-service bar capable of serving any cocktail you desire. Service from our waitress, Sivka, was excellent. Vines is located on Deck 5, just off The Piazza.

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The International Cafe (5)

Yes, this is more than an early morning coffee shop. International Cafe also has an adjacent bar that is very popular in the evenings. The location just off The Piazza is probably the reason. You can enjoy your favorite drink, and enjoy the entertainment at the same time.

Bellini's (6)

Bellini's is a small, but very elegant lounge on Deck 6 overlooking The Piazza. In addition to being a full-service bar, they offer a wide variety of bellini-inspired drinks.

Club 6 (6)

Located on Deck 6 forward, Club 6 is a full-service bar right next to the Casino and just aft of Princess Theater, making it the perfect place for a drink before or after going to the evening show. The decor here is more contemporary, an apparent attempt to appeal to the younger crowd. Club 6 also becomes the ship's disco late each evening. This is the "hip" bar on Royal Princess.

Club 6 is the "hippest" bar on Royal Princess

Crooners (7)

Located on Deck 7 overlooking The Piazza, Crooners is a full-service piano bar that is a little more subdued than International Cafe or Bellini's.

The Wheelhouse (7)

After Vines, The Wheelhouse was our next favorite lounge. Located on Deck 7 aft, The Wheelhouse is positioned at the entrance to Crown Grill, making it the logical place to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail before your Crown reservation. The Wheelhouse decor is dark, warm and the large leather chairs swallow you up in a comfort that you don't want to end. There is piano entertainment here in the evenings which is much less harsh that what you might experience in Vines (because Vines is right off The Piazza). So, for a quiet, classy place to enjoy a drink, The Wheelhouse is your best bet.

Princess LIVE! (7)

There is a bar located just outside of Princess LIVE! with some very unique and creative seating. Other than the shows being held in the Princess LIVE! studio, there is no entertainment here, making this a peaceful place for a drink. The bar also has some sweet treats available for the taking throughout the day.

The Seaview Bar (16)

Located poolside on Deck 16 (Lido), the Seaview Bar is positioned right next to the port side Sky Walk. For an interesting experience, try walking over the sky walk and looking down after a couple of drinks.

The Outrigger Bar (16)

If you go all the way aft on Deck 16, behind Horizon Court, you will find one of the best kept secrets on Royal Princess. The Outrigger is a margarita bar with 8 different types of margaritas, including one that has chili peppers! Bring a friend and share a 32oz margarita. Complimentary chips, salsa and guacamole are served with drink orders. The Mexican sailaway from Tallin was a bit weird, but fun nonetheless. Since the bar is located all the way aft, you have an incredible view of the ocean Royal Princess leaves behind.

Chips, salsa and guacamole served at Outrigger Bar

The Mermaid's Tail (16)

Probably the official "pool bar", the Mermaid's Tail is located on Deck 16 amidship (Lido deck) in between The Trident Grill and Prego's Pizzeria.

The Retreat Bar (17)

This bar is located in the adult-only Retreat on Deck 17 forward.

12 Night Scandinavia Cruise aboard Royal Princess — CruiseReport.com (31)

A 20th anniversary only comes along once. So, when selecting a cruise ship to celebrate such a special occasion, you had better make the right choice. I don't think we could have picked a better ship than Royal Princess to celebrate our 20 years together.

We were concerned that with 3,800 guests on board, the ship would be crowded and we would spend a lot of time in long lines, or looking for a place to sit and enjoy a drink. We struggled with the crowds and lines on MSC Divina earlier this year. However, those fears were soon put to rest. We never had a problem finding a place on Royal Princess to "get away" from the crowd. And, the only line we stood in was when tendering in Stockholm.

Royal Princess is a beautiful ship with an excellent crew. We would not hesitate to recommend this ship to anyone looking for a wonderful "big ship" experience.

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