This was a 10-day repositioning cruise from New York (Brooklyn Cruise Terminal) to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, The ship called in St. Maarten, Antigua and Aruba en route. (See our photo feature for this cruise).
It is always a pleasure to return to a ship that we have enjoyed sailing on before and finding that it is operating as good or better than before. Therefore, we were pleased to find Regal Princess in good physical shape and with a happy crew that provided first-rate service.
The most frequent criticism that was leveled against this class of ship when they entered service was that there was no midship staircase. The absence of this feature placed additional demand on the midship elevators and as a result, there were often substantial wait times for an elevator. However, during Regal Princess' most recent refit, a midship staircase for passengers was created. Consequently, the elevator delays are a thing of the past and the passenger flow is quite good.
During this voyage, Princess was testing a group of high technology services that it has grouped together under the name Ocean Medallion. When fully implemented, each guest will receive a medallion in place of the familiar plastic key cards that all the cruise lines have been using for the last decade or so. The medallion will not only act as the room key and onboard credit card but will allow Princess to provide an array of enhanced services to its guests on Regal Princess. On this voyage, only guests in one section of the ship were issued the medallions but the plan is to have the entire ship operating with medallions during Regal Princess' upcoming Florida/Caribbean season.
One part of the Ocean Medallion services that was available to all during this voyage was the MedallionNet internet service. This is an enhanced internet connection, which is nothing like the internet service traditionally associated with cruise ships. We found it to be fast and reliable. Indeed, it operated as well as our internet service at home.
Entertainment and activities
Regal Princess' main entertainment venue is the Princess Theater. Princess has not succumbed to the temptation to do full Broadway/West End shows in its theaters. While these were a novelty when cruise ships started having such shows a few years ago, they are no longer anything special. Moreover, for passengers who have traveled on a particular ship before, they are tedious. It is much more enjoyable to see a review-style production show again than to see a show with the same plot over again
On this voyage, the production cast did several shows. They were professional and were aided by Regal Princess' movable LED screens, which provided the backgrounds. In addition, there were a number of visiting headliners. Of thse, we enjoyed vocal impressionist Tricia Kelly the most both for her singing and comedy.
There were also game shows in Princess Live and there were theme parties on the pool deck and in the Piazza. Films were shown both on the big outdoor screen and in the Vista Lounge. Live music was offered in a number of the bars and lounges. One of the singers did a tribute concert to Edith Piaff, which is something that you do not find on many cruise ships.
If none of the entertainment programming caught your fancy, the in-cabin television offered a large (complimentary) selection of recent movies and television programs on demand.
Inasmuch as this cruise involved seven sea days, Princess had an independent lecturer aboard who spoke on various topics such as navigation and the use of the sextant. These talks were in addition to the standard talks by various ship personnel such as the ship's photographer, the art gallery and members of the spa staff. Also, Princess provided space for and publicized discussion groups created by the passengers. For example, one of the guests formed a discussion group for people who were interested in poetry.
The highlight of the enrichment programming, however, was “Stargazing at Sea,” held one evening when the ship was cruising in the Caribbean. The guests who participated in this program met with a member of the activities staff on the uppermost level of the ship's open decks. The lights in that section were then turned off revealing a vast number of stars, which are normally obscured by the light from the ship. The member of the activities staff pointed a laser at different constellations and spoke about them using content developed in connection with the Discovery Channel. Not only was it educational but it was a spectacular view.
Dining has long been one of Princess' strengths. While food is, of course, a matter of personal taste, we found the meals in the main dining room to be very good. In addition, the variety and service were also quite good.
As on previous voyages on Regal Princess, we liked Alfredo's Pizzeria the best of the alternative dining venues. This is not your usual cruise ship poolside pizza. (Regal Princess has another venue by the pools that fills that role). Rather, it is a gourmet pizza venue where individual size pizzas are made to order for you. You can have a salad or antipasta while waiting for your order and afterwards, if you have any room, there are desserts including tiramisu. The food is complimentary. The only negative aspect on this voyage compared to previous cruises was that more people seem to have found out about this gem.
We were somewhat disappointed in the Gelato shop on Deck 5. On previous voyages, this was a highlight but this time, we felt that the ice cream was unremarkable. Also, whereas you used to be able to use your specialty coffee cards to purchase a gelato, they can no longer be used for such purchases.
Of the specialty restaurants, we dined in Sabatini's. The restaurant was using a different trattoria menu from the one it was using on our last voyage. However, the experience was still that of a sophisticated Italian-style restaurant. The service was again very good.
The majority of the passengers on this voyage were people who had cruised with Princess before. Most were North American but there were a number from the UK. Since this was a longer voyage that took place while school was in session, it was not surprising that there were few children aboard.
Regal Princess is a fairly large ship and carries 3,500 guests. However, because it is bigger, it has a better passenger space ratio than many smaller ships. In other words, there is more space per passenger. It also has more venues so the passengers are not concentrated into a few locations.
Whereas Regal's sister ship Britannia (of P&O Cruises) has several solo cabins, Regal has none. This strikes us as odd considering that a cherished part of Princess' heritage is the Love Boat television series in which solo travelers often met and fell in love aboard the ship.
Nautically, Regal Princess handled the seas very well without much movement even coming down the East Coast from New York. While it rained a few times, there were no major storms to offer a challenge to the ship.
Above: Captain Tim Stringer, Customer Service Director Ralph Dsouza, Hotel General Manager Dirk Brand.
Above and below: Theme parties on Regal Princess.
Cruise ship review - - Princess Cruises - - Regal Princess - - 2018