Cooking with Alison

Review of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in Comparison to Princess

In Reviews on May 6, 2012 at pm

I cruised to the Western Caribbean with the Royal Caribbean cruise line on the Liberty of the Seas ship in January, 2012.  This is a brief review of the Royal Caribbean cruise line in comparison to the Princess cruise line, Caribbean Princess ship.  See here for my original and detailed review of the Princess cruise line food.

I am officially hooked on cruising and I plan to try ships from the other major competitors over the next few years, including Celebrity, Holland America, and Norwegian.  I can’t wait to declare a favourite company!

Selection and Availability of Food:

On the Liberty of the Seas ship, food was not available 24/7 like it was on the Caribbean Princess ship.  In fact, we were surprised by how early the buffet closed on the Liberty of the Seas.  Also, there wasn’t as much variety on the Liberty of the Seas.  On the Princess cruise line, the options at the buffet lines were quite different, and sometimes even better, from what they were serving in the dining room.  On the Royal Caribbean ship, most of the dining room menu was also served at the buffet, with just a few additional items.  Personally, I prefer to have more variety, but some people might like being able to enjoy dining room food without having to eat in the dining room at a scheduled time.

We sampled the breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the formal dining room.  The Royal Caribbean ship didn’t offer afternoon tea like the Princess ship did.  We also ate at the informal buffet line, sushi line, pizzeria, and cafe.  The sushi buffet line was terrible and the pizzeria and cafe were very disappointing compared to the pizza place/grill and International cafe on the Princess line.

Dining Room Food:

The Royal Caribbean dining rooms are much more grand and beautiful than the Princess cruise ships (see photo below).  However, it does not make up for the differences in the food quality.

The dining room breakfast on the Liberty of the Seas was not nearly as good as the one on the Caribbean Princess.  However, unlike the Princess ship, the Royal Caribbean ship’s dining room breakfast had a buffet line as well as a menu that you could order from.  This was great for rushed mornings.

The lunch and dinner menus changed each day.  The options sounded great, but the first two days’ of lunch and dinner in the dining room were terribly disappointing.  In fact, the steak that we ordered was too tough to chew and was literally a choking hazard.  But the food drastically improved by the third day and then became very enjoyable and on par with the Princess dinner.  In fact, the chocolate raspberry tart was the best chocolate tart that I have ever had (photo below).  The crust was buttery, sweet, crunchy, and unbelievably good.  I also highly recommend the prime rib dinner and the scallop dinner.

Buffet Food:

The buffets on the Liberty of the Seas were the worst food options on the ship.  The quality and selection of the food were terrible in comparison to the buffets on the Caribbean Princess.  The upside to that is that I saved myself a lot of calories.

Pizzeria and Cafe:

The pizzeria and cafe were opened later than the buffet.  They offered sandwiches, desserts, pizza, and antipasto.  The antipasto were way too salty and the quality of the meats was not impressive.  Also, the pizza, sandwiches, and desserts were forgettable.

Customer Service:

Other than the dining room wait staff, the customer service on the Liberty of the Seas ship was terribly disappointing in comparison to the staff and service on the Caribbean Princess.  I had never experienced such good service before I cruised with Princess.  The guest services staff on the Liberty of the Seas were rude, unhelpful, and they made several mistakes when assigning room keys, handling our payments for gratuity and settling the bill.  There was also no offer to compensate us for our multiple trips to the desk for issues that they failed to resolve properly.  Also note that the key cards that the Royal Caribbean cruise line uses are extremely sensitive to demagnetization.  Simply placing them in the same purse as my camera resulted in dysfunctional cards.

Facilities and Activities:

The quality of the materials used on the Princess cruise ships appears to be of a higher quality than those used on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  I also find that the decor on the Princess ships to be on the traditional side (slightly boring) whereas I find the decor on the Royal Caribbean ships to be a bit tacky.  Decor aside, the Royal Caribbean ships tend to be much larger, and they have more amenities, many more activities, more clubs with better music, and a lot more fun.  There is a lot more to do on the Royal Caribbean ships.

Overall Summary:

Although the Royal Caribbean dining room dinners were quite good for the most part, the food in general was incredibly disappointing in comparison to the Princess cruise line food.  (Please note that the last time I was on a Princess ship was in 2010, so I just hope that they have maintained the variety, attention to detail, and quality of food.)

I much prefer the Princess cruise line because of the food and staff, but I must admit that I do enjoy the activities and facilities on the Royal Caribbean cruise line.  Royal Caribbean is probably better suited to families and young adults.  I plan to give the Royal Caribbean cruise line one more chance by cruising on their Oasis class of ships because those ships have many complimentary dining options including healthy venues.  Review to come.

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  1. I enjoy cruising as well and have sailed on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and enjoy both lines for different reasons. I sailed the Allure last year and it was amazing! So much to do and the shows were so polished! 🙂

    • Hi Danny! I’m hoping to sail the Allure this winter! I’m so glad to hear that you liked it! I’m excited for their shows too! I’d love to hear which cruise line (Royal Caribbean vs Celebrity) you thought had better food.

      • i always heard that Celebrity had better food but it was pretty similar to RCL overall. But I thought Allure as a specific ship was better since it had much greater food variety overall and I think its newness helped as well.

  2. Oh my goodness, try Celebrity. Their service and food is amazing (better than Princess) although… I have to warn you, their target audience is definitely an older crowd. So choose a route that involves a lot of day-stops (rather than at-sea days) because their on-board activities are, uh, a little less likely to be to your taste.
    So fun, your cruise vs. cruise review! But… no pictures of the destination?? : )

    • I want to try Celebrity so badly!!! 🙂 hahaha I figured it wasn’t targeted for us still-semi-young folk 🙂 That’s why Ed wanted to do Royal Caribbean one more time because he doesn’t think that being bored is a fair trade-off for amazing food and service :p It sounds like you’ve cruised a lot too!

  3. I have just taken an Alaskan cruise on the Sapphire Princess and took a Western Caribbean last year on RCL’s Freedom of the Seas and your review is spot on. RCL should be ashamed of their food. Although we did have great service. We are going on the Allure of the Seas, Oasis’s sister, in March 2014 and will see home their food is. I also feel Princess does not push alcohol and the casino as much as RCL, which is a good thing.

    • Thanks so much for writing! I hope that you have an amazing time on the Allure of the Seas! I’ve heard amazing things about the entertainment. Also, that ship has the highest number of “complimentary” dining options, including healthier options. I would love to hear your thoughts/review of your next cruise 🙂
      Alison

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