New exterior livery photos courtesy of Princess Cruises / All others by Jason Leppert

Royal Princess is a storied ship name in Princess Cruises‘ heritage, having applied to two previous vessels, the most significant of which was the Princess Diana-christened innovator from 1984. The latest iteration is also something special, named by Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and representing a slightly new design approach for the brand. Princess ship designs have always been some of the most consistent across the fleet, and the Royal mostly maintains the tried-and-true aesthetic with a few other tricks up its sleeve.

The Piazza (pictured above) from ships past continues along for the ride in its most fleshed out and beautiful form ever. The double helix staircases punctuate the activity and dining hub filled with shops, lounges and restaurants; and the sights, sounds and smells perfectly converge and invite guests to join in. Elsewhere, the decor still favors uninspired but inoffensive browns and beiges while some elements like the SeaWalk (pictured below) literally push the design over the edge with a cantilevered glass-floored catwalk in stark contrast. Unfortunately, the promenade deck below is extremely limited with very little public space, and the midship stairwell bizarrely does not extend to the upper decks, requiring only slow elevator use from that location.

New to the Royal is Princess Live! (pictured below), a television studio venue that broadcasts shows throughout the ship in lieu of a cabaret. The concept is somewhat exciting but not nearly as comfortable for spectators as the Explorers Lounge on other ships. Meanwhile, the Lotus Spa & Salon has been wisely relocated to a lower deck, freeing up prime space higher up. It would just be nicer to see an observation lounge on the forward top deck instead of extra cabins there.

Speaking of cabins, private accommodations are mostly unchanged from previous Princess ships, but the line thankfully introduced Deluxe Balcony staterooms (pictured below) on the Royal to finally bridge the gap between its usual Balcony (sans sofa-sleeper) and Mini-Suite categories. Now a third passenger can sleep without the need to book a more expensive suite. Otherwise, cabins are very similar to predecessors and are now being made more comfortable as The Princess Luxury Bed is rolled out across the fleet.

Private bathrooms, on the other hand, are surprisingly small for a new generation of ship. The walk-in closet leading to it remains a nice touch, but the sink, toilet and shower are as cramped as on older vessels. From a premium line, the shower in particular should be more spacious and ditch the flimsy shower curtain for a better-fixed enclosure. Nonetheless, past Princess guests are treated to one of the best loyalty programs at sea; now if only the hardware would more closely resemble the great software.

Activity-wise, the Royal Princess offers lots of relaxation options but little in the way of wild attractions found on other larger ships. That is to say, the tranquility of the aforementioned spa and the adults-only likes of The Sanctuary and Retreat Pool (pictured below) provide great respites, but there are no water slides, ropes courses and zip-lines. However, there are still a fitness center and sports c

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