Princess Cruises’ newest ship, Regal Princess, hit the seas for the first time May 22, sailing Mediterranean itineraries through Greece, Italy, Croatia and Turkey. Regal Princess is a virtual twin of Royal Princess, which debuted in June 2013. Like its sister ship, Regal has the same large Grand Piazza, large theater with palladium seating and funky SeaWalk that allows passengers to pass over a clear cantilevered walkway 16 decks high.
Loyal Princess fans will recognize some of the line’s more traditional features on this ship, but the class really represents an evolution for the line. The signature piazza is grander, the Crown Grill steakhouse is warmer, Movies Under the Stars are bigger. There’s familiarity, yes, but it’s impossible not to see the future of the line in the Royal Class.
Cruise Critic spent six nights onboard Regal Princess, checking out every nook and cranny. Here’s what we thought worked (and what needs a little work).
Retreat Pool. Located on Deck 17, the Retreat Pool is an adults-only pool space that provides a serene escape from the crowds on the Lido Deck below. Passengers can rent cabanas in the area, but it’s perfectly comfortable to hang out on the loungers, in the pool or in one of the two hot tubs. It has a small bar and is just generally a quiet space to spend some time when you need to decompress.
Grand Piazza. A tradition on Princess, the Grand Piazza is the spot to hang at night. Spanning three decks, the piazza on Regal Princess is stunning, with lots of marble and metal touches. At night, you can settle into any of the lounges that surround the piazza (Crooners, Bellini’s and Vines, among others) and watch the events below; we loved the acrobats who performed with help from selected passengers. You can participate in the entertainment or just chill and chat with companions.
New entertainment. Two production shows debuted on Regal Princess: “Fiera” and “Bravo”. “Fiera” is an elaborate production with over-the-top costumes that has performers singing modern songs (Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars, for example) in a carnival setting. Think “Big Fish” meets “Moulin Rouge”, which, according to Adrian Fischer, Princess’ vice president of entertainment, are among the shows that served as inspiration. The set includes an enormous movie screen with which performers interact. “Bravo” makes a 180 from “Fiera” and might be best described as “popera.” Performers sing opera classics such as “Time to Say Goodbye” and “Habanera” from “Carmen.” In between, you’ll catch modern tunes such as “Skyfall” from Adele. Combined with a subdued set and large orchestra, the effect is a strangely seamless and ultimately delightful performance.
Jogging track. Regal Princess has a large, two-lane jogging track, located on Deck 18. One lane is designated for walking, the other for running. For the most part, passengers adhered to the rules on our sailing. Seven laps around equals a mile, which means you’re not constantly turning while running (that’s much easier on the knees, especially for speedy runners).
Food. Even the fussiest eaters will find something that appeals on Regal Princess. That’s because of the ship’s exceptional variety and fine quality. Without paying a dime extra, passengers can get a great meal in the main dining room (we loved the seafood options like scallops and sea bass), international options in the Horizon Court buffet and crispy pizza in Alfredo’s. Other for-fee restaurants also appear on Regal Princess, including favorites like the Crown Grill steakhouse and Sabatini’s Italian restaurant. Passengers can also find fresh sushi and caviar or get a crab shack experience.
Outrigger Bar. This was our favorite spot onboard, which also seemed to be the most underutilized. Located all the way aft on Deck 16, the Outrigger Bar/Horizon Terrace has amazing views, comfy seating and great service from the small bar. Plus, you get chips and salsa and guacamole for noshing. We watched our arrival to Venice through the Grand Canal from this spot, which made it easy to check out the incredible scenery. This was the only time the space felt even remotely crowded; most of the rest of the cruise, it was virtually empty.
Kids’ spaces. While there were few kids on our cruise, the kids club spaces on Regal Princess are beautiful. Each of the three clubs (Pelicans for the wee ones, Shockwaves for the tweens and Remix for the teens) has ample space, and activities are geared for each group. Kids can play Skee Ball, air hockey, video games or generally chill on comfy couches. Teens have a dedicated outdoor space, complete with large hot tub, so they can hang outdoors without running into adults.
Enclave. The Enclave is part of the Lotus Spa. The area is designed to provide the ultimate in relaxation, with a therapy pool, ceramic loungers, water beds and steam showers, all of which is great. But the space is small; the pool seems crowded with only three passengers in it, and with only a few loungers and water beds, it could get cramped, especially on sea days. To combat this, Princess limits access to the Enclave to those who buy passes. Daily passes, though, aren’t available, and passengers must buy passes for the duration of their cruises (while the price changes depending on the length of the cruise, expect to pay $25-$30 per person per day). Also, those who spend money on pricy spa treatments aren’t entitled to use the Enclave, which seems unnecessarily stingy.
Aft pool. The aft pool is a standard on Princess ships, so when Royal Princess debuted without this staple, passengers complained — loudly. Princess heard the feedback and quickly made plans to add an aft pool to Regal Princess. You’ll find it tucked away on Deck 17. We love that Princess listened to its passengers and made changes, but the pool is pretty tiny — it’s not much bigger than a hot tub. Still, the area is beautiful, and the views are stunning. It’s worth grabbing a spot back here, especially on sea days. Worth noting: When Royal Princess undergoes its first drydock, the line will add an aft pool to that ship, too.
Promenade. The promenade is another tradition on Princess ships that didn’t make the cut on Royal Princess and caused a stir among loyal passengers. As with the aft pool, Princess acquiesced and added a promenade to Regal Princess. The problem? It’s not a true promenade. It doesn’t wrap the ship. Instead, it essentially is two outdoor decks: one portside, the other starboard side. The only way to get from one to the other is by cutting through the ship.
Balconies. As is the trend with newbuilds, balconies on Regal Princess are small, even at the mini-suite level. We still were comfortable sitting outside and watching the world go by, but enjoying a meal or stretching out would be tough.