As most of you know by now, I’ve worked in the cruise industry for many years, and now being married to a guest entertainer/cruise director, I get to sail with many different cruise lines, fairly regularly. I love being able to see how they each compare, what I think they do well and what could be better…but also remembering that each one has its own audience and therefore the needs of the cruisers are different too. So, I’m going to review my last Majestic Princess Cruise which we took from Brisbane to Darwin, yep, only 4 days, and they were all sea days between the embarkation/debarkation ports. Basically this meant we had plenty of time to explore the ship, but I can’t review any shore excursions…read on to see what I loved, and what I didn’t!
What is the target market for Princess Cruises?
Cruise lines don’t have star ratings, but if they did, Princess would sit around a 4 star. The guest age can vary, specifically for holidays etc, but on the whole you’re looking at an older passenger, often with their mid-age children. You will definitely see a few walking frames around as Princess have made their ships incredibly accessible. That said, you will also see some kids on board, as they do promote themselves as family friendly and offer a kids club, but we saw lots of kids in groups, hiding out under stair cases or in random places, not sure if that’s becuase they were bored?
This is a large ship, with around 3,500 guests on board, so expect to clock up a few steps when getting around, and the inevitable queues for lifts and boarding/disembarking the ship. Built in 2017 she’s looking quite shiny still…although I’m not a fan of the yellow and blue colour scheme they seem to have used just about everywhere…
What are the dining options on board?
As with most cruise lines these days, there is no shortage of dining options with Princess. Majestic being one of the newer and larger ships, offers even more than the others, I was overwhelmed at the size of their casual/buffet restaurant ‘Horizon’ which seems to go on for miles, with every type of food you can possibly imagine. Make sure you arrange a table to meet your travel partners at before you get your food or you could waste 20 minutes just trying to find them again!
The main dining room is also extremely large. They have both traditional (fixed time) and anytime dining, where you just turn up when you’re ready and they’ll give you a buzzer to call you when there is a table free. We sat at a shared table because there was more availability but you could choose a table for 2 if you prefer.
Other dining options include a 24-hour International Cafe in the Piazza serving paninis, soups, cookies and a variety of other snacks, all complimentary. Tea and coffee is available here too. We found it challenging to find a table/chairs at popular times though.
Pool grill offers a range of burgers, hot dogs, and sometimes even lobster (extra charge) so you can get your fast food fix here.
Alfredo’s Pizza is fantastic, I would actually put it up there as one of my top 5 favourite pizzas I’ve ever eaten – and I’ve been to Italy many times! Try the Calzone, its delicious!
There are additional specialty restaurants available at an extra charge, mostly with an Asian flavour, as this ship is often in the China region when not in Australia, but the steak restaurant is worth checking out too. The settings of each restaurant are all very lovely.
I can’t forget in-room dining either – one of my favourite things! They have a good menu available and its mostly complimentary (there are a few things you can upgrade at cost). I do love breakfast in bed!
What activities are available?
The ‘Patter’ is their daily newsletter which will tell guests what is happening every day. Activities include dance classes, bingo, trivia, culinary demonstrations and wine tasting. If you are looking for something a little more physical, head on up to the Sports Deck for basketball, ping pong or mini golf. You will also find regular pool competitions in the main pool area or for something more relaxing check out the book club. You can do as much or as little as you like, although finding a quiet time in the Piazza can be challenging. We were trying to enjoy a relaxing dinner in the Pizzeria, but had a competition happening in the open area below which involved lots of screaming and shouting for about half an hour…
Of course, you also have the swimming pools, both inside and out, plus hot tubs to splash around in.
What’s the entertainment like?
There is plenty of entertainment available on this ship, from large scale production shows, to Guest Entertainers, comedians, magicians…you name it! They generally have 2 showings of each performance, so you can choose to watch pre or post your dinner.
Watch a TV show, culinary demonstration, game show or towel making demonstration in Princess Live, watch a movie under the stars with freshly cooked popcorn or catch some live music in one of the many bars. You can never be bored!
If you’re more of a high roller then go hit the extensive casino to enjoy the bright lights and variety of machines.
I’ll give a special mention to Crooners, one of the late night bars, set in Sinatra era and with a talented pianist crooning old soul and rat pack classics. A great way to wile away an evening with a drink.
What is the Hollywood Conservatory?
I’ve put this as its own heading as I was really impressed with the area and don’t know what other heading to put it under! Basically, this is a beautiful tranquil garden located 150m above the sea. The seating is relaxed, comfortable sofas and hammocks. Play giant chess, or jenga, admire the large topiary birds or listen to the daily live music.
It’s hard to separate out one gym/spa from the next let’s face it, they’re pretty much all the same on the larger ships. The equipment is high tech as expected, with Personal Trainers available for additional cost. However, I did like the outdoor gym that Majestic Princess has on board, several resistance machines on the back deck.
They also have a really stylish ‘The Enclave’ which is an adult-only section of the spa. Think large thermal pools, hydrotherapy, and rain showers, heated stone beds and relaxing water beds. The perfect escape, you’ll never want to leave!
The tax and duty-free shopping onboard can be the highlight of some people’s cruises! You can get some real deals if you’re smart, check out the collections from BVLGARI, Cartier and Chopard, plus OMEGA watches and ranges from Chanel, Estee Lauder, Swarovski and Calvin Klein.
If you are looking for a sugar hit they have plenty of chocolates and lollies/sweets on board too!
Princess are pretty casual during the day, but most guests will dress up in the evening, particularly if they are dining in the main dining room or a specialty restaurant. If you want to stay casual you can enjoy the Horizon buffet and won’t look out of place.
There will be some formal nights on your cruise, your Patter will advise when this is, so bring along something extra special for this night. You may also find they have a tropical night or other theme, so maybe something bright would be good to throw in too.
Each deck has its own laundry room for guests to use. There is a small charge for the machines and the washing powder but the iron is free to use. There is a laundry service you can use instead, but its not cheap.
Highlights of Majestic Princess
Ok, so let me do a quick round-up of everything I really enjoyed about our Majestic Princess cruise.
- Great pizza
I mentioned it before, but they really do make a great pizza on Princess!
- Fabulous Hollywood Conservatory
I really enjoyed this relaxing area, although sadly we didn’t find it until the final day…I could have spent much more time there. I explored it when were in port, so I’m not sure how busy it gets on sea days however.
- Good drinks package
Princess offers an extensive drinks package which covers absolutely everything from cocktails to beers and wine, sodas, teas and bottled water.
- International cafe, 24hr snacks
Not all of the ships have this but Majestic Princess has the 24hr International Cafe which is great for a snack during the day, a light breakfast or lunch or a quick tea and cookie.
- Movies under the stars
We didn’t get a chance to do this sadly, but I hear great things and have done it with another cruise line, its a fun way to spend an evening!
- Carpet direction
I love that you can work out which direction you are going by the colour of the carpets! One side of the ship is red, the other is blue – great idea!
Lows of Majestic Princess
Ok, so I’ve mentioned some of the things I love, here are the things that I didn’t like so much, or I found frustrating. I understand everyone has different experiences, so you may disagree, and that’s fine, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
- Bright gaudy decorations, lots of gold/yellow and blue
Some guests may love the interior design, but for me, it was just too brash and casino-esque everywhere.
- Always queuing for lifts, then get packed in
With so many guests unable to walk stairs and having mobility scooters or walking frames, the queue for the lifts can get really crazy. I’m all for walking a few decks, but this is a big ship, so to go from the top to bottom in heels on formal night…no thanks!
- Bored looking kids hanging in groups in public areas
I found this a bit weird, and they were often in the way, I’m not sure why they weren’t in the kids club
- Hard to get a seat in International Cafe for mid-morning or afternoon tea/coffee.
Considering there were only 2 of us, I didn’t expect it to be so hard… we often grabbed take away and took it back to our cabin instead.
So that’s my Majestic Princess cruise review. As I said from the start, I was only on the ship for 4 days and they were all sea days, so I may have had a different experience from the rest of the guests. Whilst they aren’t my first cruise line of choice, they do have a lot to offer a large target audience, and with a very good loyalty program, they draw guests back time and again. As a first time cruiser, have a think of what is important to you before you book, there are so many options around, it absolutely is possible to find your perfect cruise holiday!
What’s your favourite cruise line? Have you cruised with Princess before? Let me know your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading – see you next time!