Cruise ships often take time to settle in after entering service. The hardware has to be tested against the rigors of daily operation. In addition, routines have to be established and the officers and crew have to get used to the technology and with working with each other. Thus, when a new ship provides an exceptionally good cruise experience shortly after entering service, it is impressive. And when that happens I like to go back some time later to see whether the ship is still delivering at such a level.
I was very impressed by Regal Princess when I cruises on her during her inaugural season. She is a member of a new generation of cruise ships that are not only much larger than previous cruise ships but which offer more facilities and more choices in entertainment and in dining. Although somewhat smaller, she is in the same league as Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway class and Royal Caribbean's Quantum class.
Of course, the hardware is only part of what makes a good cruise experience. How the cruise line plans to use that hardware and having people (officers and crew) who able to carry out that vision are the crucial elements for success. Princess Cruises has a well-thought out vision for the kind of cruise experience it wants delivered on its ships and, as discussed in my last review of Regal Princess, the onboard team knew how to deliver it (See previous review).
I am pleased to report that Regal Princess is still offering a very good cruise experience. The senior management team has changed from last year but the ship's style of relaxed sophistication remains. Furthermore, as discussed below, the ship does well in entertainment, dining and in crew attitude and friendliness.
Whereas my previous cruise on Regal Princess was in the Caribbean out of Fort Lauderdale, this cruise was a seven-night cruise of New England and maritime Canada leaving from New York City. There were calls in Halifax, St. John, Bar Harbor, Boston and Newport. The ship was doing a series of these cruises as she re-positioned from her summer routine of Baltic cruises to her winter routine of Caribbean cruises.
The weather on a Canada and New England cruise in mid-October can be chancy. However, on this cruise, the only day where it rained all day was in St. John. Still, most of the passengers ventured ashore and explored the town in the misty rain. In the other ports, there was sunshine for most of the time that we were in port. As a result, the mood of the ship was good.
Because the itinerary only included one sea day, there was no enrichment program to speak of. Guests were invited to a lecture on genealogy but it turned out that this was a lecture by and for members of a large group traveling on the ship and thus was too specialized for the general public. The ship's photographers also gave a presentation on photography and their work, which I found interesting. However, I did miss the strong enrichment presentations given during my last cruise on Regal Princess.
In the evening, the production shows were the same shows that were on Regal Princess last year. Inasmuch as it costs a small fortune to produce one of these shows, you have to expect that the production shows will remain the same on a given ship for several years. On Regal, the shows are themed productions grouping together a number of popular songs. The singers and dancers interact with large movable LED screens, which also provide the scenery for the shows.
This does not mean that there is nothing to do in the evening if you have seen the production shows. On some of the evenings, visiting entertainers would perform in the main theater. Comedian Miguel Washington received a very positive response from the guests.
Princess likes to give its guests alternatives to the shows in the main theater. Accordingly, Regal Princess has the television studio Princess Live and the cabaret Vista Lounge with game shows, trivias, theme parties and karaoke.
In addition, the large open expanse at the base of the ship's atrium (the Piazza) is also used as an entertainment venue with various performers appearing during the course of an evening. The classical music quartet, the Alegria Strings, attracted noticeably more attention than the classical quartets that I have encountered on other ships. Along the same lines, the acrobats La Paire impressed the audiences with their displays.
On this voyage, Regal Princess premiered a program called “The Voice of the Ocean.” Modeled on the popular television show, this is a singing contest in which guests compete to win the title Voice of the Ocean. The finalists performed live with the ship's orchestra in the main theater with the hotel manager, one of the ship's vocalists, and Miguel Washington acting as “coaches.” The finals packed the theater.
Quite a few ships offer a selection of on-demand recent movies on the in-cabin television. However, on Regal Princess, these movies are complimentary. I found watching these films particularly enjoyable after returning from a day ashore and late at night before bed.
Dining on Regal Princess was also a pleasure. My favorite of the various dining venues is Alfredo's. Located in the atrium on Deck Six, it looks like a specialty restaurant. However, it is complimentary. Alfredo's specializes in pizza, but it is individual sized gourmet pizza, not poolside slices. They are cooked ala minute as ordered. There are daily specials as well as six or seven varieties of pizza and calzone on the menu. In addition, Alfredo's offers varies of antipasto, salads and desserts. Good food and good service. So much so that I had lunch at Alfredo's each day of the voyage.
The main dining rooms also performed well. The menus had variety and the dishes were nicely prepared. As a result, I had breakfast and dinner in the main dining rooms each day.
Speaking of service, I was very impressed by the attitude of the crew. Seemingly each time I encountered a crew member, I received a greeting. These were not perfunctory hellos but rather greetings that conveyed the impression that the speaker was happy to be there and actually glad to see you.
The officers and crew are proud of the fact that Regal Princess is the flagship of Princess Cruises. All too often in the cruise industry, the tittle of flagship just means that the ship is the newest ship in the line's fleet. While Regal Princess is currently the newest ship in the Princess fleet, she has also earned the title of flagship. Regal Princess provides the epitome of the Princess cruise experience. A large ship, she has all of the facilities found elsewhere in the fleet. Yet, the passenger flow is such that she does not seem crowded. In short, she offers everything that Princess provides in a well-managed, well-maintained, clean and customer-friendly environment.
Cruise ship review - - Princess Cruises - - Regal Princess - - 2015