Just Off the Gangway….Regal Princess: Hits and Misses

June 4, 2014 | By | 22 Comments

Regal Princess in Dubrovnik, Croatia
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 on Regal Princess
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 on Regal Princess
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).
Pastries on Regal Princess
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 on Regal Princess
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.
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    22 Responses to “Just Off the Gangway….Regal Princess: Hits and Misses”

    1. Phyllis Johnston
      June 4th, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

      Hi there. Just home from cruising on the Crown Princess in Alaska. We have also traveled on the Diamond and the Island. So far, Princess is our supplier of choice. However, our beef with the Crown is that the promenade deck was not all on one level, and the steps were so narrow that walkers got out of stride having to wait for someone to get out of the way. As well, the prom deck was too narrow and had too many obstacles. Can you pass this on to the powers that be? Thank you.

    2. Harvey A Lawson
      June 4th, 2014 @ 7:31 pm

      We sailed on the Royal for our 50th wedding anniversary last July 2013 Very disappointed with the bathroom and shower. Need to look at Celebrity for better ideas. Toilet roll is behind you and hard to reach. Gym is very small and on the side of the deck rather than in the front. Took away the stairs from Deck 8 and up. I always walk rather than take the lifts. We are 2 days short of being Elite, will fix that this August 19 as we are on the Star Princes to Alaska for 11 days. Not happy wisth the direction that Princess is going.

    3. Margaret Simmons
      June 4th, 2014 @ 8:56 pm

      We loved our Alaska cruise in 2012. We will do it again!

    4. Jerry
      June 4th, 2014 @ 10:36 pm

      Great piece on the new Regal Princess.

      I was also caught off guard when they announced the Royal with no aft pool. I was pleased to see it back on the deck plans of the Regal, but a little saddened to know that it is more of a “warm tub” than a pool in the same light as the aft pools on the remaining Princess fleet.

      There are a lot of great innovations on these two ships, but it does seem like Princess is trying to pack a bit too much onto one ship. Seems like a number of the new whiz-bang features they are offering would be more functional on a ship that is 10 or 20% larger than the current ships. I understand that Princess doesn’t want to end up sailing the same class of ships as Royal Caribbean’s Behemoths of the Seas, but Royal and Regal are so ambitious that getting the size of the whole vessel right for the services offered is key to future success.

    5. Judith Moss
      June 5th, 2014 @ 12:37 am

      We have just returned from 27 days cross Atlantic/Baltic cruise on the royal princess. The main thing that we missed was a space below bridge (crows nest) where we could relax, attend a performance or game show. We didnt think that there were enough production shows and that the entertainment director was a bit slack. I was really disappointed with the ship in general, after all it was the newest ship and I expected something out of the ordinary..mostly same old, same old.

    6. Deloris
      June 5th, 2014 @ 6:44 am

      We are loyal Princess cruisers, having completed our 19th cruise in Feb 2014 onboard the Royal. When friends asked about the new ship, I wrote them a review that mirrors yours. The Promenade was the biggest disappointment. You didn’t mention your feelings on the fact there is no center stairway. What comments did you hear about that on the Regal? Lots of passengers complained about it on the Royal.

    7. Ted Ferragut
      June 5th, 2014 @ 9:18 am

      We are Princess Platinum, almost at Elite. We are taking the maiden voyage from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale in October which gets us over the hill. Good report BUT you missed one important point. Was it actually OR appeared to be crowded? How many passengers on board? Was it the full 3560? Did it seem crowded? Could the ship absorb that many people? Access to the theater at night – crowded? Lines into Horizon? Backups at the gym? That is my biggest concern. We have taken the Diamond and Pacific, large to small. Ship size and passenger count matters. So? Can you addend the report?

    8. Lyn - A Hole in my Shoe
      June 5th, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

      I read your review with interest, having sailed onboard Royal Princess last year. I am glad to hear that Princess listen to their loyal passengers and have rectified the few things the critics knocked them down on.

    9. Thomas Jackson
      December 22nd, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

      My complaints are many…….The Enclave was $200 per person on our 10 day cruise. Its basically steam rooms and a giant hot tub…..on ships like Caribbean Princess, its FREE. There is too much going on in the expanded Piazza. From dance classes to workouts…always noisy. Horizon Court is huge….leads to frustration and confusion to what is actually available. Would I line up to sail her again? NO….The Grand class ships offer more included perks Elite members have come to expect from Princess

    10. Ed Collis
      December 24th, 2014 @ 2:10 pm

      The Sky Walk seemed a bit of a bust. Very few people used it, and then only once. Too much view into private balconies.

      However, I LOVED the Shooting Gallery. Basically a first class shooting game on deck 18. I know that it is “Politically Incorrect”, but it is FUN. If you object…Simple solution…Just Stay Away.

    11. M/M Leftow
      December 24th, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

      We are Elite – 22 cruises on Princess with 2 more booked. We are also stock holders of Carnival Corp. We’ve written letters to the new President of Princess, and it appears that nothing we say will change anything. The new “concept” just doesn’t work. The food has gone way downhill. They were nice enough to offer two dinners in the specialty restaurants for our next cruise but all the issues and complaints just can’t be resolved. Royal Caribbean stock keeps going up while our Carnival Corp goes down. Princess is no longer even in the top 10 cruise ships. The Ruby, Emerald and Crown were wonderful. Whatever “rocket scientist” designed the Royal and Regal must have been drunk. We gave the Royal a second chance. They gave us a mini suite – UNDER the pool! For 10 days our heads were hurting! We didn’t realize that mini suite was directly under the pool. I doubt that anyone would have paid for it. Next cruise, we will not eat in the dining rooms. We may be eating pizza or sandwiches or wings or doing the buffet, but “fine dining,” unless it’s in the Crown Grill or Sabatini’s no longer exists. The price for our cruise dropped after we made final payment to a ridiculous amount. We got nothing back. They are building 3 more ships. When will they get the message: THIS CONCEPT IS NOT WORKING. The balconies are a “ledge.” Barely enough for one person. The shower head fell on my back 3 times. We could not control the temperature in the shower or cabin – it was either cool or cold. I have many medical problems and I was cold for 10 days. One day I could not even leave the cabin because I got sick. They served a chicken dish with blood coming out of it.I could go on and on – but the bottom line is – people like us, who have been crusing for more than 25 years, on Princess as well as other cruise lines, are not happy with Princess. Is it worth it to get our laundry done? A mini bar? They even cut back on that — no Coke. They gave us 12 tissues a day. The toilet paper is paper thin. The steward replaced the toilet paper only when we nearly finished the second roll. It’s sad to see a beautiful, once-classy cruiseline go downhill and so many negatives about it.

    12. Princess of the seas
      December 24th, 2014 @ 2:52 pm

      Just sailed on the Regal and was very disappointed to see they did not open the stairs in the middle. We were told they were seriously thinking about doing that after the numerous complaints when the Royal came out.
      We were on deck 8 and had to wait and wait for the elevator just to go to deck 7.

      We were very surprised to see that the smoking was still allowed in the casino. I love the casino but do not love coming out of there smelling like a stinking ashtray.
      There were more non-smokers in there.
      Wake up Princess…..smoking should be allowed only outdoors!!!!!

    13. Judith Luria
      December 24th, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

      We were on the Royal December 9, 2014; and we enjoyed our 10 day cruise tremendously. Having just returned 2 weeks prior from a Celebrity Panama Canal cruise and being greatly disappointed in food service and extras previously provided, I was delighted with Princess. The quality of food and variety were superb; and as always entertainment was varied and enjoyable. I’d take this cruise again.

    14. christine
      December 24th, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

      Well my sister and I will be on the Regal Nov. of 15. We are really looking forward to it. I am Princess to the core and whatever my next cruise is it will be my 50th on Princess. I do plan on a cruise as I need one. It’s like an addiction. My son is an officer with RCCL and I do sail with him but he has been transferred to the Asian sailings so I doubt I will be going. Just can’t take the long flight. I am looking forward to make a decision on the Regal. My favorite ship in the fleet was the old Regal which was sold to a group in Australia. So it will wonderful to see the new one.

    15. christine
      December 24th, 2014 @ 3:34 pm

      I plan on getting on a ship in LA by Feb. Can’t wait.

    16. sheryl
      December 24th, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

      Disagree that the retreat pool is a “hit”. We went on a cruise the first week of December. The weather was absolutely beautiful BUT windy – this meant the retreat pool was closed/off limits for the first two days. On another day when it was finally open, it was hard to enjoy as it was still windy and the poor design of this area does not do enough to block the wind. Attempted to go in hot tub and wind was causing water to slam us in the face, and forget about having a drink unless you want to hold it the whole time or risk having it blown away along with your towel, flip flops,etc. Its a shame because it is a beautiful area but the design does nothing to block the wind.

    17. Bud Guy
      December 24th, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

      Wife and I sailed from Venice in May on Regal’s maiden voyage. Good ship and very pretty and new, but the biggest disappointment for us was the lack of a top deck bar with lots of windows, like Skywalker Lounge or similar. Really need a high spot to watch the world go by. Also agree with the spa comments above. And, I hope they fixed the little irritants like no navigation channel on the tv. We could never know where we were. Will check it out again in January.

    18. Pam Steinberg
      December 25th, 2014 @ 9:15 am

      We were on the Regal TA from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale.
      The public rooms were to small for the amount of passengers on the ship. We had a feeling that Princess were just building the new ships too small and they lowered their standards in order to squeeze more people in the ship. We will not sail on princess but will go back to Celebrity.

    19. Donna Shope
      December 31st, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

      Cruised on the Regal in Sept. I walked all the way around the ship on what I thought was the Promenade deck. A few windy days caused it to be partially closed and I had to cut through the ship.

    20. LeeRB
      January 4th, 2015 @ 7:40 pm

      I am booked on the Royal in September and have been looking at a getaway on the Regal in April. But the cruise I took on the Caribbean Princess at Thanksgiving and what I see here about the Regal and Royal makes me wonder if I should have booked with RCCL or even Carnival instead of Princess. While the food on the first night out and Thanksgiving on the CB were good, the rest of the nights it was more of what do I dislike the least in the MDR. The pizza and burger palaces did have good food though and the buffet was so-so. The pizza was the best I have ever had at sea. The balcony door in the cabin I had on the CB would not lock also. I informed my steward the morning after sailing and it still wouldn’t lock the day we debarked. I after reading the reviews, I think I will skip the Regal in April.

    21. Kim Parker
      April 6th, 2015 @ 9:30 pm

      Just came off the Regal yesterday and to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I haven’t sailed Princess in 5 years, enjoying the many fruits of the Celebrity labour…I don’t know if I will be going back.
      We were kept awake for the first 2 nights as it sounded like our room was falling apart; carpenters were sent in to repair it. We were granted dinner and a bottle of wine at the Crown Grill for our frustration. Unfortunately our seats were right next to the Wheelhouse Bar where the pianist, who was wonderful, was playing and it made it difficult to hear each other. The food here was very good, the service was mediocre, but the overall appeal of the 2 specialty restaurants pales in comparison to Portofino on Royal Caribbean and Qsine on Celebrity.
      We paid corkage at check in, only to be accused of not paying corkage when we brought our wine to the dining room; apparently the waiter was only doing his job, but obviously couldn’t see the Princess logo stamped on the lable…a very nice bottle of wine was offered for this embarrassing situation.
      The fitness center is far too small for a ship this size. There is no sauna or steam room. There are 2 showers and 1 washroom for all. It is on the side of the ship, with a direct path for all passengers to cross through it making it even more crowded. To top it off, the smoking section is right next to the fitness center, so when the door opens, we get to inhale second hand smoke.
      The casino is small and it offered no inline games found on other ships like Wheel of Fortune, but they did offer a no smoking night…
      The spa is nowhere near the adult sanctuary or the fitness center; it’s on deck 5 next to guest services. It was $149 per person for amenities found on other ships for free. The hot pool is small, the beds weren’t warm, the water beds were odd and stand alone. The steam/sauna rooms were neat. There were no cold towels or water when we went in. The towel basket was overflowing and there were no lotion or qtips that are found complimentary in other ship spas. A room key card is needed to access the spa; I witnessed a family of 4 using only 1 card for all of them; no one monitoring this.
      The food and service was okay, not great.
      The staff seemed very disengaged and rushed.
      The shops were boring.
      They pushed and pushed and pushed the art auctions far too much.
      The piazza was loud as there was always activities going on in there.
      The middle of the ship was roped off for the water show, which is typically where you will find zumba or line dancing-this was done on the sports court away from everyone.
      The running track is a great idea, but not everyone can read and remain off the run track. We asked people to nicely move, we yelled at people, we ran them over; we never saw a staff member policing this.
      I was lost many times; even had a staff member tell me the ship was a maze. The elevator to the Allegro dining room was the most bizarre as this was the only way in and out of this area…
      The first 2 days we were made to wash our hands at the start of the buffet, which was fine by me keeping norovirus off the ship. However as the days went on, there was no management of this area.
      The elite benefits are okay compared to the equivalent tiers on other cruiselines.
      I have travelled on over 15 cruises with numerous cruiselines and I have never come off a ship saying I am glad to be going home…this time I did.

    22. gloriajean
      April 22nd, 2015 @ 12:40 am

      We are elite and have returned recently from Rio de Janeiro on the Ruby Princess (Mar 2015). What a disappointing cruise overall. I should add that after full payment, the price on this cruise dropped to the tune of $1000 per passenger or $2000 per cabin!! So no money back, but we got a cabin upgrade. BFD, I would rather have the money back to put towards shore excursions!! The itin was good – that’s what we signed up for but the cruise amenities itself definitely were lacking in every aspect. The cutbacks were hugely evident…the toiletries for elite have been cut back, we asked for housecoats only to be told that they were unavailable because they were all being laundered. After three days, we received teeny tiny shrunken worn out housecoats that would fit a 12 year old. Needless to say, we didn’t bother with them. We don’t drink alcohol and asked if we could exchange the free mini-bar booze for soda (like we do on other previous Princess cruises) The front desk told us it was not allowed. We then called housekeeping, they made the exchange within a day. The food in the dining room was at times, tolerable. Many times, we skipped and picked our way thru Horizons Buffet for dinner. Even then, it was a challenge – the food quality has gone way down. One can eat casseroles at home!! The activities on board were lame – our cruise director, Billy Highgate should retire – he is so done with his job – why do they still keep him on?? The celebration of crossing the equator was pathetic, obviously a time killer for being a sea day……people lined up to kiss a rubber fish and to have jello and spaghetti smashed into their faces….really????? We have sailed with Princess at least 25 cruises and are going on a Baltics cruise on the Regal on June 4th, 2015. Having read the comments on this blog on the Regal scares me….I will report back upon our return. By the way, after full payment of this Baltics cruise, the prices dropped dramatically….only for new bookings. If they keep this up, they’re going to lose their loyal customers!!!

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