Boarded the ship in Venice - this was a smooth process with not a real queue in sight. In fact this was a consistent theme throughout the cruise, and it came as a really pleasant surprise that 3600 passengers could move about the decks, restaurants and facilities with such ease. This also applied to embarkation and disembarkation, and to the organisation around visiting 8 ports of call; which again was excellent.
The Regal Princess was virtually brand new when we sailed in mid-July, so it would have been extremely surprising if the condition of the ship was anything other than first class – fortunately, we were not disappointed. Also, the crew appeared to be well organised and service was always attentive and efficient.
The dining arrangements were good, and the food was generally of a high standard. We had ‘Anytime Dining’ and ate mostly in the Horizon Court during the day, and in the Concerto and Symphony restaurants in the evening. Horizon Court operates a buffet format, but the range and quality of food available is very impressive indeed. The main restaurants have an atmosphere similar to that of a 5 star hotel.
Aside from the excitement of a new ship, the main attraction was the itinerary. Starting in Venice, then visiting 8 classic Mediterranean destinations, and ending in Barcelona. The timescales, on a 12 day cruise, obviously meant that it was only possible to get a flavour of each location, and we used a mixture of the Princess excursions and doing our own thing. The Princess excursions we used were actually very good, if a little rushed at times. Special mention must go to the on-board destination expert, Julio Delgado. His talks on each of the destinations were very informative; and having these talks available each day on the in-house TV was really useful.
Only a couple of minor negative points.
The deck entertainment was mostly fine as an accompaniment to sunbathing etc. , but then suddenly the sound volumes were increased to fairly high levels, with different activities. This was made worse due to an excessive bass distortion problem with the main deck speaker system, particularly evident in the deck areas behind the main speakers. So, where to move to relax on these occasions ? … perhaps the Adults Only Retreat ?
The Adults Only Retreat is a very good idea in theory which doesn’t quite work in practice. It’s a smallish area, totally cluttered with furniture, plants and shade paraphernalia. To make matters worse, the small number of sunbeds in the sun were often ‘reserved’ with towels, but with no sight of the towel owners. ( In the interests of fairness, I should also report that in the main deck areas, sunbeds were always readily available somewhere, and appeared to be regularly monitored by the deck attendants ).
Some of the above is probably more of a management issue, but senior management were ‘low profile’ to say the least. The Adults Only Retreat just needs to be redesigned, de-cluttered and properly managed to ensure that it is reasonably available to all adults.
The issue of lift availability and location of stairs is well documented, but was never a real problem.
But to summarise, it was a fantastic cruise and a great experience !
All good !