When I was in high school, I had a teacher who would give higher grades on book reviews if you savaged the book. He equated negative comments with critical thinking.
Alas, I am about to disappoint my old school master because I do not have anything negative to say about my recent cruise on Regal Princess. Quite to the contrary, it was an extremely well done cruise.
The cruise was a seven day voyage out of Fort Lauderdale to Princess Cays, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Thus, it included Princess Cruises' private island and two of the most popular Caribbean cruise ports. I've been to these ports many times now so the itinerary did not have the virtue of novelty. But, at the same time, these places are familiar to me and so I know how to structure my days there so as to have a good time.
Therefore, the focus of this cruise was on the ship. Regal Princess is the second ship to be built in her class. Royal Princess was the first. A third one is on order for Princess. P&O Cruises' Britannia was built to the same design.
Regal Princess is a large ship and I find her quite spacious. She has a better passenger space ratio than the mainstays of the Princess fleet, the Grand and Super Grand class ships. Thus, I did not find her at all crowded.
On Royal Princess, one problem with the people flow has been long waits for elevators particularly at the midship elevator bank. This is primarily due to the fact that the stairs by these elevators do not run all the way up through the ship and so more people have to use the elevators. While Regal also lacks a midship passenger staircase, adjustments have been made to the elevators programming and I did not experience much in the way of delays.
Another adjustment that has been made is in the theater. On Royal, each row of seats extends all the way to the wall so that people have to go up or down via the central aisles. On Regal, space has been allowed between the seats and the walls so that guests can go up or down that way as well. This seems to have created a better passenger flow.
The larger size of this class of ship allowed Princess to add several new venues. Of these, Princess Live is the most memorable. It is a television studio which serves as the venue for lectures, game shows, and various other activities. Such activities are common on cruise ships but having them in a studio with cameras and monitors lends them a sense of excitement. Also, the sight lines in this intimate room are quite good.
The size also allowed Princess to expand the size of some venues. This is nowhere more apparent than in the Piazza, the ship's central atrium. It has now become a grand room. In addition, whereas some entertainment was presented in the Piazza on earlier Princess ships, this larger Piazza lets the concept blossom so that this truly can be called an entertainment venue.
As far as décor, it would be difficult to tell the Piazza on Regal Princess from the one of Royal Princess. It is Princess' philosophy to make ships of the same class nearly identical in décor so that passengers returning to the line will have a sense of familiarity regardless of which ship they book. Whatever the merits of that philosophy, the décor of the Piazza on Royal is so spectacular, it demanded that it be used again on Regal Princess.
Of course, the hardware only contributes so much to making a great cruise. In my experience, Princess consistently provides good service. Of course, you can always run into someone who is a jerk or who is having a bad day but as a general finding the people serving on the Princess ships seem genuinely interested in ensuring that the passengers have a good time. In addition, the cruise lines usually assign their top people to bring out a ship. By the time of my cruise, the ship had also been in service long enough to have gotten any kinks out. Consequently, the service was very good with no negative incidents.
How was the food? It is of course my personal taste but I always like the food on Princess and Regal Princess did not let the side down. A favorite venue for me is Alfredo's Pizzeria. This is a restaurant specializing in gourmet individual pizzas. They are made and cooked as ordered. At the beginning of a cruise, people walk by but do not enter. They either assume that there will be an additional charge because it looks like a specialty restaurant or that they can get pizza up by the pool. There is no additional charge and while you can get pizza by the pool, you can't get this pizza by the pool. As word gets around the ship about what Alfredo's is really about, it gets busier and busier. By the end of the cruise, it is tough to get a table at lunctime. So let's keep this between ourselves.
Entertainment was very good. High points were the shows by the Beatles tribute group Beatlemaniacs and the Sixties deck party in which the production cast performed along with the fountains on the pool deck. I also enjoyed the enrichment program. This included two authors, Sarah Jio and Claire Bidwell Smith, who spoke about their work and writing. Princess executive Chis Joly packed Princess Live with a talk on how cruise ships are built. On a cruise that involved three sea days, a good enrichment program is essential.
Cruise ship review - - Princess Cruises - - Regal Princess