Was I crazy or have I had my head buried the sand for the last billion years? Seriously now that I have cruised on the Majestic Princess I have to pinch myself and ask… why is this my first time cruising with Princess Cruises?
Well without being overly dramatic, which can occur every now and again I actually think I know the answer and it’s simple… I had the impression that the Princess brand was for travellers that were of a different vintage (if you know what I mean) but after spending 12 FABULOUS nights aboard the Majestic Princess I am happy to say I was wrong!
With new ships, we always find that it takes one or two days to settle in and understand how everything operates. So to make life easy this guide will help you to hop straight on board and start enjoying your cruise knowing you have everything covered.
Once you have booked your cruise be sure to complete the online check-in via the Princess Cruise personaliser. This way on embarkation day you only have to show your cruise ticket and ID to get on board. Princess makes this so easy to do, just follow the prompts on their website. Once your cruise personaliser has been updated you will be able to print your tickets and bag tags – exciting!
Be sure to also check out the shore excursions tab and pre-book any tours that take your fancy. This way you will avoid disappointment if you get on-board and they are booked out – Hobbiton in New Zealand was clearly a crowd favourite on my cruise as all of the tours were booked out on-line a few months before we even left.
Although we wanted to board as early as possible we arrived at our allocated time slot of 2 pm (mostly because I was still packing my bag) and to be honest we were happy we did.
There were no line ups (I think the majority of people were already on board and at the buffet) so we went straight through to the check-in counter, showed our cruise tickets and passports in exchange for two cruise cards and wallah we were on.
About the Ship
With 1780 staterooms holding up to 3560 passengers and being 19 decks high the Majestic Princess is one HUGE ship!
At first, we thought the Majestic Princess may have been a little bit too big but after a couple of days exploring what the Majestic had to offer we quickly changed our minds.
Onboard you will find not one but two restaurants that have had their menus created by Michelin star chefs, a putting green, pools, hot tubs, a basketball court, karaoke rooms, shops, art gallery, indoor Hollywood adults-only pool club, casino, library, internet café, 3 different kid’s clubs, gym, movies under the stars, bars, live shows, the sea walk with a see-through glass floor that is cantilevered over the ocean and a billion other things to keep you entertained.
We found the Majestic Princess had three main areas:
Piazza – This felt little like an Italian piazza, it is smack bang in the middle of the ship and is surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops, bars, music and activities. It is the place that brings everyone together. It’s fun, exciting and its winding staircases add that little bit of cruise ship glitz and glam that we have all come to love and expect from cruise ships.
Theater – This is one of the places on the ship that you need to get to early, there are two shows every night (around 7.30 pm & 9.45 pm) and talks and games during the day … and let me tell you it’s VERY popular, especially on sea days and when the princess cast is performing – if the show starts at 9.45 pm be there by 9.15 pm!
Dining Rooms – Who doesn’t love to eat on a cruise! With so many delicious menu options on offer for breakfast, lunch and dinner and because the main dining rooms (Concerto, Symphony and Allegro) are part of inclusive dining you will find this feels like it’s your second home.
Tick, tick, tick and tick – spacious, loads of closet space, a gazillion coat hangers, a bathroom that although tiny didn’t feel overly claustrophobic and a TV hung in the perfect spot!
We checked into stateroom B530 on Deck 11 otherwise known as Baja deck. B530 is a balcony stateroom that is located towards the middle of the ship (mid-aft) and the right side of the boat to get the most amazing view of the Opera House as we sailed out of Sydney Harbour from the balcony.
The only thing about this cabin that was a little annoying was the room attendants cart was outside our door majority of the day, this wasn’t a big issue but just something to note.
There are many stateroom options that range from inside cabins to suites but B530 was the perfect size for the two of us.
We did get to see inside:
B526 – Mini-Suite which had a lounge that converted into a single bed. The suites did offer a little bit extra room and a bathtub/shower which would be good for families.
B204 – Interior Room which was plenty big enough for two people
Majestic Princess has food options galore, so much so that I actually felt like I never stopped eating. Specialty dining allows you to experience Michelin star cuisine while inclusive dining offers you pretty much any and every kind of food you can think of.
Let me explain how the main dining rooms work as it confused us initially… There are three main dining rooms Concerto Dining Room and Symphony Dining Room that are for any time dining guests and the Allegro Dining Room that is for traditional dining guests.
Anytime Dining is simply that, you can arrive for dinner at a time that suits you. Symphony generally opens between 5 pm and 9 pm and the Concerto Dining Room generally opens between 7.30 pm and 9.30 pm. You can alternate between the two restaurants and even pre-book a table from 8 am each morning by calling the restaurant reservation line.
Traditional Dining is for guests who have been allocated a traditional dining time which will be either 5.30 pm or 7.30 pm – basically, you dine at the same time every night in the same restaurant.
The Concerto Dining Room also opens for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea for all guests to enjoy.
Alfredo’s Pizzeria was one of our favorites and was a great place to have lunch or dinner. The Hawaiian and vegetarian pizzas were very tasty.
International Café was another favourite of ours, here you could have breakfast (fruit, yogurt, bircher muesli, doughnuts and banana bread just to name a few) and is the place to get a real coffee (for an additional fee). The cafe is open 24 hours and offers sandwiches, salads and cakes around the clock. A few mornings one of us would run down get a takeaway coffee and breakfast and enjoy it on the balcony.
As part of Inclusive dining, you can also enjoy: World Fresh Marketplace Buffet and Bistro (we never ate here as we don’t like buffets but it did look very popular), Swirls Ice Cream Bar, Chopsticks Noodle Bar, Lobster Grill & Hamburger Bar (lobster incurs a fee) and Room Service (be sure to order the warm milk and cookies or in our case two wine glasses and 6 cookies thanks!)
Specialty dining just means you pay a small cover charge to eat at that particular restaurant. There are four main specialty restaurants onboard the Majestic:
Harmony – Cantonese Inspired Cuisine
Bistro Sur La Mer – French Cuisines
Crown Grill – Steak House
Lobster Bar – Poolside lobster grill
During our 12-night cruise, we tried Harmony and Crown Grill and would totally re-book both restaurants next time we cruise on the Majestic. When we heard that a Michelin Star chef had helped create a Cantonese food journey that was on board our cruise ship we instantly called the restaurant reservation line and made a booking at Harmony
Cover Charge $29 per person
(entitles you to 1 starter, 1 soup, 1 specialty meal, 1 main and 1 dessert)
Harmony is not your everyday Chinese restaurant. There was no sign of Mongolian beef on this fancy menu but trust me just persevere through the starters as the mains are delicious! I say this as jellyfish and century-old eggs weren’t exactly what I expected for an entrée when we booked into Harmony.
I actually panicked a little and wasn’t sure what to order… I knew I wanted the marinated chicken with noodles and Sichuan sauce but there was no way I was going to eat an old egg. Good news though all the meals can be cooked to your liking so just ask your waiter to hold the egg or jellyfish and wallah we are back in business.
Cover charge – $29 person
(entitles you to 1 appetizer, 1 soup or salad, 1 main and 1 dessert – additional mains can be enjoyed for $10 each)
Crown Grill is a steakhouse and if filet mignon, peppercorn gravy and prawns are on the menu then that is exactly what I am going to order and I am so happy I did… it was really delicious.
Be prepared to be razzled and dazzled by the princess cast as they perform shows in the theater that are nothing short of what you find on Broadway. It’s not only the talent that will blow you away but the jaw-dropping costumes, the pyrotechnics that shoot up from the stage and the drones that fly around.
Princess also has signers, magicians, piano players, comedians, destination experts and speakers playing at different locations throughout the ship along with games, tournaments, competitions, cooking demonstrations, under the stars movie…. you will never get bored.
How to Find a Quiet Place
With 3560 passengers on board, you may want to find a quiet place away from your fellow cruisers, here are some tips that worked for us:
Hollywood Conservatory Cabana – Claim your own private cabana at the Hollywood Conservatory. I must warn you though get there early as these are popular and limited.
Get Up Early – We got up at 6 am (on a couple of mornings) and enjoyed pretty much the whole piazza to ourselves (this is also a brilliant time to take pics of the ship).
Wake View Bar – Each time we went to the wake view bar we found there was only a hand full of people sitting and enjoying the view at the back of the boat. This may have been because it was a little chili but nothing a warm jumper can’t fix.
Specialty Restaurants – Book into one of the specialty restaurants, although you pay a cover charge to eat there you will find for this exact reason that they are never crowded.
Take the Stairs – Not only will this help you walk off that extra piece of cake you ate at dinner and save you a whole load of time waiting for the lifts but it will also mean that you don’t have to ride in a packed lift.
Stay on Board – On port days stay on board for the morning, you will find most passengers are chafing at the bit to get on dry land and seem to jump ship all at the same time. We did this at one port and felt like we had the whole boat to ourselves (another great opportunity to take pics of the ship).
Room Service – Ordering room service for breakfast, lunch or dinner is a great way to hide away, have a great meal and take in a movie.
Sea Pass Card
Every passenger will be given their very own sea pass card upon check-in, this card acts as your ID, stateroom key and charge card while you’re on board.
You know how you see cruise pics and just about every person has joined the lanyard club, well this is because you need to carry your sea pass with you at all times so you can make drinks purchases, get in and out of your stateroom and most importantly get on and off the ship on port days.
The lanyards can be anything from all glammed up with glitter to the less appealing travel agent issued promotional tags. Although extremely practical I am yet to partake in the cruise tradition and prefer to carry my card in my pocket… but I must be honest I saw many more lanyards than not. If you don’t own one don’t panic, you can buy them when you get on the ship.
We were cruising on Christmas Day and it was so much fun! There were Christmas decorations hanging everywhere, beautifully decorated Christmas trees and Christmas music playing throughout the ship.
The crew wore Santa hats and reindeer ears and everyone just seemed that little bit happier. A lot of activities were focused around Christmas eve but on Christmas day Santa made an appearance and you could just hear the excitement as all of the kids were chanting his name.
There were small gifts for all of the kids and the cruise director read “It was the night before Christmas” in the piazza. On Christmas night there were Christmas crackers on the tables a Christmas show in the theater and lots of guests who were dressed up in Christmas attire – my personal favourite was a family of three that all had the same Christmas Pyjamas on for their photo with Santa!
This was a great way to celebrate Christmas and we would certainly do it again!
Every evening you will receive a copy of the Princess Patter in your stateroom. This is a program that lists (in time order) all of the activities that you can participate in the next day.
There are so many activities ranging from shows, trivia, golf driving competitions, the voice competitions, choirs, bingo, destination talks, cooking demonstrations, wine tasting, movies, shopping events and the list just goes on and on.
The patter will also tell you things like what the weather will be like, facts about the crew and port information.
Book Your Next Princess Cruise
Book your next cruise while onboard and get free onboard credit – yah!
You will pay a heavily reduced deposit per person (we only paid $100 AUD) which guarantees you free onboard credit for your next cruise.
What I love about this is promotion is that you don’t actually have to book in a specific cruise then and there you just pop your deposit down and then have two years to book in your next adventure.
Many other cruise companies offer this same sort of promotion but you have to book a specific cruise when you pay the deposit to secure the freebies.
What to Pack
Obviously clothes are a very good place to start along with your passport, cruise ticket, foreign currency and anything else that you can’t live without day to day like medicines, mobile phones, toiletries, sunglasses, etc. There are a couple of extras we like to throw in our bag when cruising which helps make cruising that little bit more enjoyable:
Sea bands – Help reduce seasickness and can be purchased from your chemist. We have used them a couple of times and found they did make a difference.
Wind Jacket – Pop in a wind jacket or jumper in as the ship’s aircon is set to cold and really really cold.
Glen 20 – I’m a total clean freak and germaphobe so a little spay of glen 20 (disinfectant spray) every few days to the door handles, light switches, bathroom area, safe buttons, aircon vent, fridge handle, phone and wallah no germs here.
Plastic zip-lock bag -This sounds crazy I know but I heard somewhere that a TV remote holds zillions of germs so pop the TV remote in a plastic zip-lock bag and it’s ready to use.
Drivers Licence – In some ports, we had to take photo id with us so we were able to get back on board the boat. To save carrying around our passports we took our driver’s license.
Pegs and a piece of string – So you can hang your smalls on a line to dry (Majestic Princess does provide a clothesline in the shower).
Good to Know
Anytime dining can get busy at peak times, to avoid having to wait you can pre-book your table at 8 am each morning by calling the restaurant reservation line from your cabin phone
To avoid having to leave your bag outside your room the night before you disembark, select the walk off with your bag option. This is very handy if you are catching a plane home as you can still pack your liquids or aerosols in your check-in luggage
Ordering room service for breakfast on port days takes that little bit of stress out of having to rush to the dining room – especially if you are booked on an early shore excursion
Princess allows you to bring one 750ml bottle of wine onboard per person, which you can enjoy while watching the world cruise by from your verandah. For a small fee, you can also enjoy your wine in the dining rooms
Avoid the buffet on embarkation day – it’s crazy, head towards Alfredo’s Pizzeria on level 6 for a much more civilised lunch! Alfredo’s is free for all guests to enjoy – it’s delicious!
You will see “Photo Spot” signs around the boat, this is showing you the best vantage points to take professional quality snaps
Alfredo’s Pizzeria will deliver to your room for a small fee – approx $3
Use the paper form to order your room service breakfast and hang it on your door handle the night before as sometimes we had to wait to have our order taken when we called room service
Every cruise will have a formal night or a couple of formal nights (depending upon the length of your cruise) where everyone gets that little bit jazzed up. Here’s the thing everyone’s interpretation of formal on the boat is different we saw some people dressed to the nines wearing long gowns and tuxedo’s and majority of others dressed semi-formal with suit pants and a shirt for the men and a pretty dress or pants and a top for ladies
Self-Service Laundries can be found on most floors. If you really feel the need to get a load done while you’re on your holidays then for a small fee you can wash away. We didn’t actually visit the laundry but had a quick look in as we walked past – yes there was an iron
Dining Rooms – If you don’t like the table allocated to you or were given traditional dining but would prefer anytime dining just see the maitre d’ on day one of your cruise and they will try an accommodate your request
Stateroom Movies – this was one impressive in room movie collection, there was a variety of new releases and all time classics along with all of best Christmas movies
Internet – We did find the internet to be slow and a little unreliable
Ps. In case you’re wondering what actually made us take the plunge and book a Princess Cruise? My parents, they are black cardholders (elite) with princess and cruise with them very regularly, so being Christmas and knowing the Majestic was a new ship we jumped in feet first and are SO HAPPY WE DID.
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Thoughts, opinions and photos shared about cruising onboard the Majestic Princess are entirely my own.