We picked this short cruise largely because we hadn't been to the 2 ports on the cruise before. We coupled it with the 2 previous Royal Princess cruises before on a B2B2B basis. It stopped at Avalon, Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. Catalina was very picturesque and a great stopover point. We rented a golf cart and drove around the island for a couple of hours, which was great fun. We rented the golf cart from Island Rentals for a total cost of $80 for the 2 hours (less than most tours). We could have had a 3rd hour for free, but felt we saw most of what was available to see. The normal price was $50/hour, but because I am a U.S. Navy vet they discounted the cost by $20. Vets and active service members can get this discount simply by asking. The carts are a little difficult to drive in as much as when you stop they die and have to be restarted (at least the one we had did). Eventually I got use to it, but no way am I willing to trade in my own UTV one one of these beasts. Still a great deal of fun and a great way to see the island. Ensenada was a surprise after hearing so much negative things about the town. We actually found it to be a great port. An antique car show was going on at the time and we enjoyed that as well. The people were friendly and the merchants weren't as pushy as in many of the other ports of call.
The Royal is a beautiful ship and the staff and employees are friendly and very helpful. The food was also great, both in the buffet and the dining room. We also enjoyed Alfredro's Pizzeria and the waiter Avinash was fun to talk to. The "Ice Cream Lady" serving cones on the deck was also fun to joke and talk with. It is people like these that keep us coming back to Princess.
What we didn't know when we booked this cruise was the fact that about a dozen of the San Francisco 49'ers football players would be on board with their fans. Apparently the team does this frequently as a service to their fans. Neither me or my wife are big football fans so those efforts were essentially wasted on us, but their fans certainly seemed to enjoy all the attention they got from the players. Unfortunately this seemed to encourage too much drinking with many of women in particular becoming loud, drunk and a bit obnoxious. We avoided them so it wasn't a major problem for us though.
This was a typical balcony cabin which was exceptionally clean and well maintained Our room steward, Julius from the Philippines, made sure it was kept that way. We lucked out because there was no one booked in A727 on the previous cruise and maintenance took that opportunity to replace the carpet in the cabin. It was a nice beige brown color. Apparently that is how they do thing on board; when the carpet needs replacing and the cabin is vacant they get the job done while at sea. The balcony was small as usual, but adequate and the room had plenty of storage, both for hanging clothes in the closet as well as smaller items.