We always try to travel to a cruise port a day or two before the ship sails. Too many things can go wrong when you travel on the same day as you board the ship… This time, we spent two extra days in Ft Lauderdale at the Embassy Suites on 17th Street.
The hotel was under renovation – and we didn’t know it. I believe the hotel should have advised us of the construction at the hotel. We may have stayed there anyway, but we would have made an informed decision. Better the inconvenience happen to us than to one of our customers. On Friday night, the hotel hosted two wedding receptions. I suspect both wedding parties were disappointed in the renovation. We couldn’t hear any noise in our room, but many of the public areas were closed.
If you stay at this Embassy Suites, you will find shopping and restaurants nearby. In fact, there is a nice book store in the small mall just east of the hotel. No reason to carry books on the plane that you plan to read on your cruise, the WELL READ Bookstore has new and gently used books for sale. In the winter, the book store is even open on Sundays.
The Embassy Suites is a healthy walk (about 2 miles) to the Ft Lauderdale beach -- and we wanted the exercise. We enjoyed the walk and had lunch at an outdoor café across from the beach. The weather was GREAT -- good time of year to enjoy Ft Lauderdale! After lunch, we started to take a taxi back, but decided we could use another walk to compensate for the extra calories consumed during lunch. Still didn’t ride the water taxi in Ft Lauderdale. Maybe next time…
On Sunday afternoon, we boarded the Royal Princess and found our cabin. We were assigned a balcony room on Baja Deck (11th floor), slightly forward of the first elevator bank. The room was about the same size as most balcony rooms on other Princess ships, it seemed slightly smaller than a similar balcony room on Holland America or Royal Caribbean ships. The room safe is too small to hold a laptop or a large digital camera. However, the cabin had adequate shelves and storage compartments. The TV was moved to the wall at the foot of the bed, leaving room on the table for personal items. The balcony was narrow. I would want a larger balcony on a longer voyage. Princess does offer a larger balcony cabin on the Royal Princess that is priced lower than a mini-suite.
Princess did a fantastic job with the atrium and other public areas on the ship. The Piazza on deck 5 can be used for a dance floor. Many of the public areas on decks 6 & 7overlook the Piazza.
For a ship that carries 3500+ passenger, I thought the library and the internet café were too small. I was told that more passengers are bringing tablets and laptop computers onboard, reducing the need for dedicated space that can be used for other purposes.
The Royal Princess has two theaters: the larger Princess Theater and the Vista Lounge. Most of the Las Vegas style performances take place in the Princess Theater. Not sure of the capacity, but the Princess Theater appears to be smaller and the theater is not as ornate as similar theaters on other Princess ships. There are no isles down the sides of the Princess Theater so it is difficult to get to the seats at the end of the row. We didn’t see any tables or table foldouts to hold drinks – not sure if Princess will serve drinks in the Princess Theater.
On this ship, Princess has upgraded the Horizon Court and included the Horizon Bistro for lighter fare. It’s easier to get to and through the buffet lines. The waiters bring tableware and glasses to your table -- less to carry from the buffet! In addition to the seating in the Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro, Princess has extra seating outside on the rear deck and near the main pool.
The food was excellent! The first night, we ate in the Horizon Court, but the second night, we ate in the main dining room. I had a hamburger the first night and lobster the second. Both mornings, we ate in the Horizon Court. The food and the service was great.