Cruising is the easiest way to travel, I’m sure of it. You arrive, and you’re at your destination. You unpack once, and you’re done. You don’t have to think about much at all, and it’s relaxing from the moment step aboard, what’s not to love?
I also know that the thought of cruising is overwhelming to many. I recently sailed to from Sydney to Hobart, and returned to Sydney, aboard Royal Princess, and my travel mate, Rebel, was a first-time cruiser. It was nice to see cruising from a first-timer’s eyes again, to see how exciting it was to someone who hadn’t experienced it before.
Thinking back to my own first cruising experience with my family, we really were so green, and didn’t maximise our experience. I have learnt so much, and I make sure I don’t miss a thing now with the way I cruise.
Our experience with Princess Cruises was entirely positive, and beautifully memorable. The experience was luxe, considered, and just so fun. When I got back I mentioned that it was one of my top 5 trips, and I know that’s a big call, but it truly was a trip that I’ll remember forever.
If you’re travelling with Princess Cruises, or considering a cruise in the future, you’ll want to read on for all the best tips and tricks for making the most of your next Princess Cruise.
Tips for Sailing with Princess Cruises Australia
Download the MedallionClass App
Before you cruise, you’ll be able to download the MedallionClass App which is going to be your go-to for your entire cruise. Once downloaded, you’ll pop in your booking details, and you’ll be able to start organising your trip. The App is great for setting up your profile, and for selecting your preferences. You’ll be able to choose your dining time (I recommend dining at 5:20pm so that you can enjoy the shows afterwards, but if you’re a nightowl you can eat later, and enjoy the later shows!), you can also choose your bed configuration, add any food allergies or requirements, and add in your payment details to set you up for an easy cruise experience.
The MedallianClass App is great for seeing the program for each day, and choosing which activities you want to take part in, and then you can pack accordingly. You’ll also be able to see theme nights, and activities.
Explore the ship
On the day you embark you can choose to either go straight into relaxing (grab a deck chair while you wait for your room, and a cocktail) or exploring the ship. You’ll have a few hours, while everyone embarks, before you have access to your room. I suggest getting something to eat. The Princess Cruises team will give you information on which restaurants are open for lunch during that period, so head there and get something to eat while you settle in.
After that, have fun exploring. Walk through The Sanctuary (the adult’s only sun deck), take a tour of the spa and see everything they have to offer, and walk around to get a lay of the ship. We sailed on Royal Princess, and it was so big, I’m sure I didn’t see it all, but I gave it a good try. It’s so fun to explore and checkout what there is to offer. Make a plan to try different restaurants, bars, and even the shops. Royal Princess even has a casino, which is fun to walk through and have a play. Our favourite bar was the sports bar in the casino. It was a great place to hang out with friends.
Eat in the dining room
There are so many places to eat, and on Royal Princess in particular (which I’m sure is the same across all Princess Cruises) the Horizon Court (a more buffet-style dining experience) has such great offerings it’s hard not to go back to it time after time. I do love the dining rooms for the luxe experience, and also for getting to know waiters that served us every day.
Eating in the dining rooms is included in your package, and while they suggest you have three courses, there is flexibility, so if you want two entrees, go for it. It’s delicious food, and a fun dining experience.
Enjoy the ease of MedallionClass sailing
One big perk of sailing Princess Cruises is that they have the MedallionClass, which makes for a really seamless experience. As you approach your stateroom, the MedallionClass registers your approach, and unlocks the door for you, for keyless stateroom entry. It also allows you to find your friends, or travel-mates with ease, and get whatever you need delivered to you.
Order food using the MedallionClass App
As a mum, there’s no greater joy for me than someone bringing me something that I want (because we seem to be doing that for everyone else). So, if there’s an opportunity to order room service, I’m taking it. Princess Cruises takes that up a notch, with the ability to order food and drink where ever you are. Want a mojito while you lounge on your deck chair? Order it through the MedallionClass App. Burger and fries in your room? Order it, and they will come. This was never not a novelty, and made cruising so easy.
Book a specialty restaurant
All the food within your package is delicious, but it’s worth checking out the specialty restaurants for a treat. The Crown Grill was voted “best cruise ship steakhouse” by USA Today, and I totally understand it. We had scallops, prawns and lobster, and while we didn’t have steak, all the steaks I saw coming out looked delicious. It’s worth booking ahead of your cruise so that you don’t miss out.
Book a balcony room
If it’s within your budget, and you’re able, book a balcony room. There’s some so special about waking up to ocean views, and spending time on your balcony taking in the view. It’s simply magic!
Go and see a show
Entertainment on Princess Cruises is world class, and it’s worth heading to a show or two after dinner. It’s my favourite part of cruising (and look, everything is my favourite, forgive me!), because you can just stroll in, take a seat and enjoy a show. There’s no lining up for tickets, waiting for the performance – like we do on land – I love the instant satisfaction of wanting to see a show, walking in, and ta-da… I’m entertained! Try it!
Spend time in The Sanctuary
While I would happily cruise on Princess Cruises Australia with my kids, I also really loved the opportunities to be away from kids that Royal Princess offered. The Sanctuary is just one of those places. The Santuary is an exclusive space located on the sun deck, and it’s gorgeously decked out. With lush sunchairs, cabanas and the opportunity for massages on deck.
Book The Enclave
I strongly encourage buying a pass to The Enclave, a thermal suite within the spa. At a weekly fee of around $149 (this may vary depending on your cruise length), you can access a small hydrotherapy pool, a Hamman (a Turkish-Inspired Steam Bath Room), a Caldarium (a Roman Inspired Steam Room), and a Laconia (a Roman-Inspired Heated Dry Chamber), as you need. We only managed to have one visit, but if I had my time again I’d buy the weekly pass (always purchase this before you sail for best value), because I loved it so much.
My Review of Princess Cruises Australia
Food: I was really impressed by the food on Royal Princess. On the day we embarked we headed to Horizon Court for lunch, and I was truly surprised at the variety and quality of the offerings. I’m generally not a big fan of buffets (I prefer smaller quantities, and lots of flavour), but the Horizon Court was impressive. There were meals like make-your-own burgers, prawn curry, loads of fresh fruits and salads, and even a section to make up a little cheese platter.
Most nights we ate at Allegro, one of the dining rooms for dinner, as my favourite thing to on cruises is to become friends with your waiter, so we enjoyed a 3-course meal each night before we headed out to the shows.
Royal Princess has more than you could ever need (I’m a little sad that our cruise was short, because I didn’t get a chance to get to everything – next time!). There are three main dining rooms; Allegro, Concerto and Symphony who provide similar style meals, with a menu that changes daily. As well as Prego Pizzeria (for all your pizza needs), Swirls Ice Cream (free soft serve!), Wheelhouse Pub, International Cafe, as well as restaurants that you can pay a little extra to eat at like Sabatini’s (a stunning Italian restaurant) and Crown Grill, a steak and seafood grill restaurant. We ate at Crown Grill one night, and highly recommend it. It’s super generous, and we had the best lobster we’ve ever eaten.
A little cheeky perk I loved with Royal Princess, was that in the MedallionClass App you can actually order meals and have them delivered to where ever you are (in your room, on a deck chair), which was very handy and delicious.
I travelled with my friend Rebel, who is pescatarian, and she was catered to beautifully. One thing I found this cruise was that I was able to choose healthier items, and really enjoy the trip without feeling like I’d overdone it. We had loads of seafood (try the prawn cocktail in the dining rooms), which was a real treat for cruising.
Beds: Before I cruised with Princess Cruises, I did a little research, and one thing that came up was how great the beds were. I was hopeful prior to the trip, and at first lie-down I was delighted. I’m not a fussy sleeper, but the Princess Cruise beds are heavenly. They engaged an expert to make them that way, and it’s a game-changer.
Entertainment: During our 4-night cruise on Royal Princess there was a huge variety of entertainment, from musical performances, to a hypnotist show, and even fun Trivia games each night. We enjoyed playing Bingo on the sea days (although we didn’t win!) as they have really generous cash prizes that were quite enticing! There’s also educational sessions, including expert advice on health and wellbeing, port experiences, and we even attended a wine tasting day, with delicious food pairings.
Day Spa: While visiting a Day Spa on a cruise is completely unnecessary and a little bit indulgent, I tend to do it every cruise, because it’s a great way to start a holiday. We did a couples massage at the Lotus Spa, which was lush and relaxing. We did a little tour of the Day Spa on the day we embarked and were super impressed by their beauty offerings – we were eyeing off the non-surgical face lift, but couldn’t make it happen.
Within the Lotus Spa is The Enclave, which if I had my time again I would have bought a week’s pass to. It’s a thermal suite area, featuring a small hydrotherapy pool, a Hamman (a Turkish-Inspired Steam Bath Room), a Caldarium (a Roman Inspired Steam Room), and a Laconia (a Roman-Inspired Heated Dry Chamber).
The cost is around $149 for a week pass to The Enclave, if you book prior to cruising. I think it’s really great value, because we would use it every day. During our cruise we only went once, but we were so blissed out and wished we’d booked the weekly pass earlier.
Overall: One thing people who cruise like to do, is compare cruises. It’s a great conversation-starter, and a hot topic among fellow travellers. For me, travelling with Princess Cruises for the first time, if I had to describe what it felt like, I would have to say it felt fancier (which I guess comes with anything titled ‘Princess’) and premium. Every detail felt considered, from the softness of the bed, to the quality of the food we ate.
While there were families enjoying their holiday, I felt the demographic was aimed at people over 40, which we fit in very nicely to. The adult-only areas are generous, with a huge pool and bar area, as well as the private Sanctuary where you can relax in private for a small fee. The ship itself felt grand, and modern, with everything really tidy and clean.
The standout is definitely the MedallionClass, which makes everything so easy. I loved that our room unlocked upon approach without us fumbling with a key, and how we could order drinks and just sit where we were… it felt comepletely effort-free. It made the cruise more personal too, adding to that ‘grand’ feel, because staff would know our names just from being near us (through some kind of sorcery of the MedallionClass!). It’s that attention to detail, and those special touches, that make Princess Cruises a superior, wonderful cruising experience that I can’t wait to experience again one day.