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arowe6

The good, bad, and ugly from a Regal Princess Eastern Caribbean cruise

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4 minutes ago, maggieq said:

We have been  thinking about returning to princess as our first cruise together was the golden princess.  The drink package is a deterrent right now 15 drinks including water, coffees and alcohol.  That’s not a good deal to me. Hopefully, they will make a change soon to match Rccl and celebrity. 

FYI... maybe I read your post wrong but...

 

Yes, the drink package includes water and coffee. But no, ordering either doesn’t count against your alcohol total of 15. It’s 15 alcoholic drinks per day, per person. You can get as much water or coffee or soda as you want. 
 

We both can drink (especially on vacation) and we’ve never come close to hitting the max. Most I’ve done was 11 on a sea day... and that’s from drinking starting at 10am until 11pm. 
 

Andrew 

Edited by arowe6

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4 minutes ago, arowe6 said:

FYI... maybe I read your post wrong but...

 

Yes, the drink package includes water and coffee. But no, ordering either doesn’t count against your alcohol total of 15. It’s 15 alcoholic drinks per day, per person. You can get as much water or coffee or soda as you want. 
 

We both can drink (especially on vacation) and we’ve never come close to hitting the max. Most I’ve done was 11 on a sea day... and that’s from drinking starting at 10am until 11pm. 
 

Andrew 

Ahh thank you for clarifying. I can drink 5 bottles of water a day and 2-3 coffees 

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Just now, maggieq said:

Ahh thank you for clarifying. I can drink 5 bottles of water a day and 2-3 coffees 

Ditto! 😉

 

I hope you give Princess a try. Lots has changed since your last cruise. 
 

Andrew

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13 minutes ago, maggieq said:

We have been  thinking about returning to princess as our first cruise together was the golden princess.  The drink package is a deterrent right now 15 drinks including water, coffees and alcohol.  That’s not a good deal to me. Hopefully, they will make a change soon to match Rccl and celebrity. 

See package descriptions, but the 15 drink limit is only on alcohol, not all drinks.  

https://www.princess.com/html/global/personalizer/ssv/beverages/disclaimer/

 

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Posted (edited)

Andrew, you asked me to comment on how I liked Princess after being away 10 years when I returned from our *Regal Princess* cruise, so I am posting here after my 12/29-1/5 cruise.  As I mentioned way up thread, I'd done about 5 Princess cruises between 2005-2010 but this was my first in a decade (after several Celebrity Cruises, a Seabourn and Regent cruise sprinkled in the middle), I believe the last 3 Princess Ships I'd sailed on were Crown, Tahitian, & Diamond.  We were in a minisuite which (unlike Celebrity) appeared to give us no apparent benefits beyond a little more space in our still quite snug cabin.  Our kids were in a different deluxe balcony cabin with lifeboat obstructing the view down (but frankly, even two decks up, the lifeboat also blocked our view straight down).  I'll give my main impressions (of what stuck in my brain after 3 long days at Disney World later...)... after writing it out, I'm now adding a disclaimer that this got VERY long and, while my impressions are MOSTLY gripes, overall we had a fine cruise and would sail Princess again if the itinerary was just right, but that we will probably stick to Celebrity/Seabourn when possible.

 

1) Lines (and crowds).  I will not sail on this class of ship again, at least not with Princess.  There were so many lines extending far out of the dining room most nights (we moved to fixed seating to avoid it).  I'm not sure how much bigger it is than the Solstice Class on Celebrity but it felt much larger and much more crowded.  The second night we showed up to the comedian maybe 5-10 minutes before the show and the whole theater was totally full with dozens of people lining the side (most other nights we got to the theater 10-20m early without a problem, though not always great seats).  The worst part was on days with tenders, they used giant tender boats so a maybe 500 yard trip to shore on Grand Cayman took 15+ minutes to load the tender and another 10-20 to get everybody off-- this of course doesn't count the time spend waiting to actually get tickets for a tender.  The other area that crowds were awful was by the pools and retreat on sea days-- BUT (important caveat!) this is a problem we've encountered on every warm weather cruise we've ever taken except Seabourn and I don't think it's any worse than on the smaller class ships-- I was just disappointed to see that the crew was not taking any actions to discourage chair hogs.  The flip side is that drink service on deck was fantastic both with and without the medallion function.  Probably the best service of the cruise was how easy it was to get drinks in the Retreat (and of course the Sanctuary).  The huge crowds also made Princess Cays feel less like paradise and more like being at Target on Black Friday.  Our pre-purchased clamshell options on the left side were at least 5 rows of clamshells back from the ocean with no view whatsoever.  Pro tip: when you get off the tender, cross the bridge on the right (facing the island)-- it's way less crowded and is where they serve the food. We ended up with Clamshells just 2 rows back from the water and a narrow view of the ocean.

1a) Dining: We are *not* buffet people and tend to split cruises between MDR and speciality restaurants. I found it a little disappointing that there only appeared to be single story dining venues, but that's nothing I would pick a ship around.  The bigger problem was that (a) by noon on embarkation day it was nearly impossible to get any tables at speciality dining rooms (I assume due to # of pax) at reasonable times.  I regret that we didn't end up trying Alfredos, because it looked like a nice space.  We ended up spending NYE at 9:30PM at Sabatinis which we felt was fine (waiter pleasant, service OK, food slightly better than MDR).  The next night was the night we could get in Crown Grill and we had a good experience there--our waitstaff was great, food was better than MDR but not quite on par with a top steak house in NY or LA.  The main dining room was SO SLOW.  We had a 3 and 5yo with us and expressed that we needed to get in and out in less than 90m (not exactly breaking the sound barrier) and the first two nights we were over 2h, it got a bit better from there, and frankly, I don't think it's reasonable to expect less than 20m per course, but 40m+ between seating and appetizer was tough.  We were pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of food in the buffet, where we ate a few lunches and also thought the pool grill burgers were at least above average for cruise pool food.  The low point of the dining experience for us was desserts-- There were few options in either the dining room or the buffet across the whole cruise that we were better than "OK"-- I did enjoy getting to have a souffle on the first formal night and a baked alaska on the second formal night-- even if the execution wasn't quite perfect.  I can't complain about anything other than speed of service overall-- I never went to bed hungry and my clothes all still fit!

2) Sanctuary.  We started our trip on a stressful note-- after terrible traffic to the port in FLL, we got on about 11:30 and I immediately went to the Sanctuary Line.  It barely moved at all, I stood there for about 90m before getting to the front.  About 15m after I arrived (maybe noon, 12:15?) They announced the entire area was sold out for week passes and the sea day afternoons--- again, this is before the time we were told embarkation would begin.  Another 15m later we were told that cabanas were nearly sold out (I did manage to get one for the afternoon in Princess Cays a whole hour later) and about the same time that sea day passes were entirely gone.  So, 90m into the line, I had "plenty of options" for port days--- but we ended up deciding to get the Cabana for Princess Cays and a double lounger for Jamaica.  We really enjoyed the Cabana, especially since the Princess Cays beaches were extremely crowded, but I wouldn't pay for the sanctuary again on a shore day outside the cabana.  The service staff was attentive and I love being able to have afternoon tea without leaving the deck.  One minor quibble-- the Cabana comes with a bottle of included wine but they aren't very high quality wines.  Since it was NYE, I wanted to upgrade to a nicer champagne-- I told them I would happily pay the difference but they basically told me it was impossible-- I could drink the super cheap stuff and also buy champagne.  I would have been very happy if they told me it was only a $10 or $15 credit for the cheap included champagne, but it just felt wasteful to buy an entire additional nice bottle, so we ended up drinking the included rose (it was fine) and then buying one nice glass of champagne-- they would have made much more money off us by giving us a $15 credit on a $200 bottle.  Shrug, not a big deal but obviously stayed with me. 😛  For those of you yet to board, I believe the people leaving the sanctuary when I arrived on board (who could book sea days) said that they got in line to book around 10AM.  Also, wear sunscreen as there isn't shade in the line.

3) Cabin Steward.  Again, maybe this is the difference between how Princess and Celebrity handle mini-suites (and admittedly there is a pricing difference, wherein Celebrity asks more $$$ for a "Sky Suite")-- but even after giving our cabin steward an extra $20 our first day, our service was inconsistent and I would say we didn't get anything beyond a 4* hotel standard housekeeping-- we did tend to stay in the room until our toddler woke at 10/11am, but it shouldn't've been too hard to get a room cleaned between 11am and 4pm.  A few times our girls were told when they asked to have the trundle bed put away that the housekeeper was off duty and would do it later in the day (which made accessing their in room fridge impossible).  One of the things our daughter was looking forward to was towel animals (or even strategic placements of chocolate on her little toy bunny) like we had last winter on Celebrity but we didn't get anything like that-- not sure when Princess stopped making towel animals.  Frankly, if they take a lot of time/effort I don't think it's necessary but it does feel like a lost tradition.  Not being able to get hot food/full breakfast in our mini-suite was a bummer.

4) Spa was good, decent availability (and we could book in advance, which was helpful) and there was noticeably less of a sales pitch than I've had in the past (I think my husband got more of a product push, but my masseuse could evidently tell I was serious when I said I just wanted to get started with the massage).  The ladies in the nail salon were lovely.

5) Entertainment-- as I believe Andrew mentioned, there wasn't a ton of evening activity or at least it wasn't well advertised/located.  We were out a lot between 9:30p and 12:30 and didn't see a lot of dancing other than on NYE.  We are not cruise ship show people generally but our kids love theater and really enjoyed the welcome show, the last night show, the broadway show.  We skipped comedian due to crowding issue and grandma/grandpa took them to at least one show I skipped entirely.  The cruise director seemed like a nice guy but I generally try to tune out most ship announcements beyond navigation.

6) Wine list: Kudos to Princess on a pretty well curated and reasonably priced wine list.  Somewhere on the ship we found a bottle of Dom Perignon for $200, which was perfect for NYE.  We like most of french varietals and had plenty to try throughout the cruise.

7) Kids club-- we travel with our au pairs and grandparents so we didn't use it much, but both of our kids (3 and 5) enjoyed it and sometimes preferred to go there instead of being with the family-- which was fine with me.

8 ) Walking deck-- this was my favorite part of the ship, I think. While I would prefer the option of a true promenade deck, I really liked the promenade fitness circuit with the various machines for upper body exercise you could stop at.

9) Movies Under the Stars-- I did not care for the day time movie selections (most of which were extremely loud action movies? that you could hear throughout the retreat as well) but other people really seemed to enjoy them.  I did not find the frequent sounds of special effects explosions enhanced my enjoyment of the sea, but I mostly just put my earbuds in and listened to music.  Both of my kids have nightmares easily so there were times of day I tried to keep them away from the pool-- but it didn't significantly impact my vacation-- just pointing out for other parents who might have similar considerations.

10) Being at sea--- final point-- I get that the future (present?) of cruising is bigger and bigger ships and less about just being at sea-- but I felt far/distracted from the sea as a general impression.  Our mini suite on the Caribe deck was about 10 stories above the water line and while we could hear it, we felt far from the ocean (especially with lifeboat looking straight down) and the pool decks are several decks higher.  I think another factor (and I presume it's for safety reasons?) is that almost everywhere on the ship in the outdoor spaces there's tinted glass at least 8' high with a rail that always seemed to be at eye level when sitting down, obstructing views of the horizon.  We ended up finding a nice spot on the promenade deck for watching sunsets and feeling a little closer to the sea about 2/3rd of the way through the cruise.

11) Smoking- I am a militant anti-smoker and was thrilled that there was almost no smoke or smoke smell anywhere on the ship, even the couple times we went through the casino.  One sunset, someone up wind from us decided to smoke weed, which was unpleasant but I get there's not too much the line can do about it.

12) Ship stability-- we mostly had pleasant seas but the ship was incredibly smooth.  A decent amount of vibration from time to time towards the back of the boat, but very little rolling.  My kids and I all get motion sickness easily in the car and somtimes at sea and none of us were at all queasy through the week.  

 

Ok, this is getting WAY too long, so I will end with one final note.  Prior to boarding, I have done 5 cruises with Princess (averaging about 10 days long) in minisuite or higher cabins and had basically no elite perks. I got a red pin, and a red medallion.  Not even any coupons better than first time cruisers.  I'm not saying I necessarily deserved a parade, an hour of internet or even a free bag of laundry, but I feel like they used to give those sorts of perks to returning guests on prior cruises and I did not feel like Princess cared about my loyalty (which, admittedly, has not been especially loyal for the past decade).

 

So, extremely long summary short: Overall most things were fine, I don't love big crowds or waiting and so I think I'm better off sticking to either smaller ships or "ship-within-a-ship" situations.  If DH and I had more vacation days, I would probably choose to cruise 30 days a year with Princess over 20 days a year with Celebrity (for us, I think a comparable room typically costs about 1.5x on Celebrity)-- however, given that we only get about 3 weeks a year total for vacation, we are a little more comfortable spending a bit more to avoid some of the lines and crowds-- that said, I would 100% sail on Regal Princess again if it was doing a unique itinerary.

Edited by JennAngel9
By popular request.

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Tip - pleased mention the ship name at the top of the post, I had to scroll to the bottom to see what ship this was about. Thanks for the post!

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CruiseVA-- I think you were addressing my recent post and I agree that I should have put the name on (though it is the same ship in the title of this thread 😉)-- so I inserted it with an edit. 🙂 

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1 minute ago, JennAngel9 said:

CruiseVA-- I think you were addressing my recent post and I agree that I should have put the name on (though it is the same ship in the title of this thread 😉)-- so I inserted it with an edit. 🙂 

You're correct it was in the subject - my bad on that, I got so immersed in reading your post that I totally forgot what thread I was reading.

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Hi @JennAngel9 thanks for this and I appreciate your perspective 100 percent. LOLing at your tender experience. Although we are elite and get to avoid the ticket line, I hate the process of tendering. Slow beyond slow on top of slow. 
 

I’m wondering if your crowds issue has to do with the time of year you cruised?! We’ve encountered lines, but never as bad as you described. But I think the big reason why is we don’t have kids and aren’t chained to cruising during school holiday weeks (thanksgiving, Christmas, ny, etc). Alas I appreciate your perspective and thank you for your thoughts. The Regal is leaving the Caribbean in April and not coming back for the foreseeable future. So there will be some new/unique itineraries. Just not in the US. 
 

Andrew 🙂

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Hi Andrew . Thanks for the great review .We last cruised on the Regal Princess in December 2016 when you and Brad were on the same cruise . 

 

DSC08149_zpsv7bakjez.jpg

 

We are booked on the Transatlantic in April in our first S 3 aft suite . Our question is do you have any insider tips to make this our best cruise ever on the Regal ? Thanks , Joe and Pat .

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Hi Andrew-- I don't know how much time of year was a factor as last year we did the Eclipse from Dec 23-Jan 5 (so basically equally bad) and my last Princess cruise was I believe Dec 22-Jan 3(ish) in Australia.  It might be that *I* now have kids, so those waits or slow tenders which I might have just dealt with (or changed my schedule to avoid) are more unbearable with jetlagged munchkins? 

 

One change I just thought of as I was replying to you now was that there were actually less scooters (rascsals?) than I remembered from Caribbean cruises.  In the '00s, I seem to recall dozens of them parked around the ship-- we saw a few wheelchairs here and there but almost no motorized scooters... until we got to Disney World, then they were everywhere!

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18 hours ago, JennAngel9 said:

Hi Andrew-- I don't know how much time of year was a factor as last year we did the Eclipse from Dec 23-Jan 5 (so basically equally bad) and my last Princess cruise was I believe Dec 22-Jan 3(ish) in Australia.  It might be that *I* now have kids, so those waits or slow tenders which I might have just dealt with (or changed my schedule to avoid) are more unbearable with jetlagged munchkins? 

 

One change I just thought of as I was replying to you now was that there were actually less scooters (rascsals?) than I remembered from Caribbean cruises.  In the '00s, I seem to recall dozens of them parked around the ship-- we saw a few wheelchairs here and there but almost no motorized scooters... until we got to Disney World, then they were everywhere!

No one likes the hoveround hurdle. 🙂

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for your review. We sail the Regal often and have our likes and dislikes too. Just wanted to say that I took The Guardians on my Celebrity cruise, *****! It was awful. Did he even write it himself? Disappointed not to have a good read at days end.

Edited by Elevatorman
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i would read your reviews all day.  and i am just in love with skipper. 

 

 

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On 1/8/2020 at 10:37 AM, scubacruiserx2 said:

Hi Andrew . Thanks for the great review .We last cruised on the Regal Princess in December 2016 when you and Brad were on the same cruise . 

 

DSC08149_zpsv7bakjez.jpg

 

We are booked on the Transatlantic in April in our first S 3 aft suite . Our question is do you have any insider tips to make this our best cruise ever on the Regal ? Thanks , Joe and Pat .

Hi friends,

 

We remember you both well... and I have that photo of the back of our heads saved in my folder from that cruise too. 🙂

 

As far as tips... hmmmm.....

 

Well from what I remember, you are an amazing photographer. So take as many photos as you can. Then take more. I have hundreds and hundreds from each cruise, but only post some of the "good" ones. But I like the memories of all the photos, even the bad ones..

 

Definitely treat yourselves to some specialty restaurants if that's your thing. My vote is always for the Crown Grill. And I hope ZaZa is still there as she'll make your experience that more memorable. 

 

Good Spirits at Sea (the bar by the International Cafe) has started rolling out interactive bartending shows which are fun. 

 

Be sure to see the Regal Princess Rock Band. I wrote about it in my review. And be sure to get a spot EARLY so you can see and hear everything. I'd recommend standing along the railing on deck 6 or 7 instead of ground level at 5. And I'd skip trying to get a table in Crooners for this. It's a cluster.

 

Oh and just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you need to also. It's YOUR cruise. Make it for YOU. I don't play bingo at home. I don't find it enjoyable. Why would I stand in a line on a cruise ship to play at sea? You get my drift. 

 

Have fun. Enjoy that suite!!!

 

Andrew 🙂 

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4 hours ago, Elevatorman said:

Thank you for your review. We sail the Regal often and have our likes and dislikes too. Just wanted to say that I took The Guardians on my Celebrity cruise, *****! It was awful. Did he even write it himself? Disappointed not to have a good read at days end.

True story!

 

The only reason I bought it was for the Amazon reviews. I loved his earlier works and the Amazon reviews were glowing. I guess I missed something..... 

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4 hours ago, vampiress said:

i would read your reviews all day.  and i am just in love with skipper. 

 

 

You are far too kind. Thank you. 🙂

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, arowe6 said:

You are far too kind. Thank you. 🙂

 

1 hour ago, arowe6 said:

True story!

 

The only reason I bought it was for the Amazon reviews. I loved his earlier works and the Amazon reviews were glowing. I guess I missed something..... 

Love your reviews! you and Brad make a very handsome couple!  Thanks for not dragging Skipper along on vacation I am sure he has a much better time with Gramma ! 🙂Happy Cruising!

 

Edited by Reader0108598

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1 hour ago, arowe6 said:

Hi friends,

 

We remember you both well... and I have that photo of the back of our heads saved in my folder from that cruise too. 🙂

 

As far as tips... hmmmm.....

 

Well from what I remember, you are an amazing photographer. So take as many photos as you can. Then take more. I have hundreds and hundreds from each cruise, but only post some of the "good" ones. But I like the memories of all the photos, even the bad ones..

 

Definitely treat yourselves to some specialty restaurants if that's your thing. My vote is always for the Crown Grill. And I hope ZaZa is still there as she'll make your experience that more memorable. 

 

Good Spirits at Sea (the bar by the International Cafe) has started rolling out interactive bartending shows which are fun. 

 

Be sure to see the Regal Princess Rock Band. I wrote about it in my review. And be sure to get a spot EARLY so you can see and hear everything. I'd recommend standing along the railing on deck 6 or 7 instead of ground level at 5. And I'd skip trying to get a table in Crooners for this. It's a cluster.

 

Oh and just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you need to also. It's YOUR cruise. Make it for YOU. I don't play bingo at home. I don't find it enjoyable. Why would I stand in a line on a cruise ship to play at sea? You get my drift. 

 

Have fun. Enjoy that suite!!!

 

Andrew 🙂 

 

Thank you for your kind words and great tips . Unfortunately that photo didn't show your best features . A slight subject change . We don't know if ya'll or your readers have considered a trip to Antarctica or Greenland . Unless things change you will not be able to go there on a ship like the Caribbean Princess or the Coral Princess after next year . We did go to Antarctica last year and the scenery was spectacular and we've booked Greenland for this year . Keep up the great work and taking photos . All of our best wishes for you and Brad .

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On 12/17/2019 at 11:52 AM, arowe6 said:

My book: Obviously not a Princess problem. But don’t you hate when the book you pack for vacation absolutely sucks? John Grisham—The Guardians. It has now been proudly donated to the Princess Library. Not recommended.

 

Yikes! Had to check my latest John Grisham book I've  been keeping for my next vacation. Whew - mine is The Reckoning.

 

 

On 12/17/2019 at 11:52 AM, arowe6 said:

The Regal Princess condition: This ship has been rode hard and put away wet. She remains a favorite of ours, but she’s showing her age. Like that one family member we all have who’s been through 3 divorces and smoked too many Marlboro reds… she once was a beauty but it’s time for that facelift and spf. Lots of worn carpet around the ship. Rust, rust and more rust. Nasty ripped and stained pool towels. Cracked tiles in our bathroom. Missing grout. Disgusting carpet in our cabin from the balcony soot (that poor excuse of a door mat outside the balcony door doesn’t help.) Ohhhh and lots of fingernail clippings and a clump of hair on our balcony. Luckily the rain we had washed away the mani/pedi residue since our cabin steward wasn’t about to do it.

 

We started cruising the Regal from it's second year, and we've loved the ship. It doesn't seem that long ago, but as intensely as a ship is used, I guess it doesn't take long.

 

 

 

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