REGAL PRINCESS REVIEW Sept 23 to October 5th, 2014 Mini Suite L224
Princess spared no money in public parts of this ship! Beautiful start with the Plaza deck. Our 1st cruise was on the original Royal Princess (700 pass) years ago. After many other cruises we selected a mini-suite, 16th deck, great view, close to the pools, jacuzzi, Prego pizza, and Horizon dining, well worth the price. On arrival we didn’t encounter the normal “pushing” of drink packages. They’ve dialed that way back and we were only approached once. HINT: Re bottled water. A waste of money ($3.50+15% tip). They have excellent tap water and serve it with ice everywhere, but no ice with bottled water unless you ask. The elevators are a trip and are in 3 groups. Four elevators, forward & aft, have one control for the left two, other for the right two. Mid-ship is different. Six elevators, each control works only on one elevator. At first it’s hard to tell what’s coming next and where it’s going but once you grasp the system it’s not bad. Watch for the up and down digital arrow display when it’s nearing your deck and you’re on your way. Little bit of a mess at forward elevators when 8:15 pm show exits at 9:15 pm, and the shows are a step above most cruise ships, with lots of variation, and your taste will decide good or bad. Heard complaints about no stairs between decks 5, 6 & 7 but they’re there in the Plaza, beautiful circular ones.
Our Mini-suite was outstanding. Giant closet, nice bag storage area. Beds very comfortable. Bathroom is big with great tub & shower, modern sink, and plenty of places to store stuff. Towels are plentiful. Our steward, Amulfo, was terrific. Fast on the job when we needed anything. SEE CONS below.
Crown restaurant is the top of our list. Try to get Fernando as your waiter, if you go. It’s well worth the extra $50 (we hit it twice). Hint, don’t eat anything earlier because you’ll walk out stuffed, just eating the steaks or Lobster, etc. Terrific piano lounge next door makes it even better. A+ to Princess on this one. Formal nights were uncrowded. Some men with a tux, many in suits, and most in sport coats with no tie. Women very well dressed. Allegro dining room is only for “traditional” cruisers who eat at fixed time with same people. Concerto & Symphony are for “anytime” diners. They all look the same so it really doesn’t matter which one you choose. HINT: If you choose “anytime” dining like we do, read the welcome directory in your suite. You will find you can call down and reserve a table, but you must do it early, after 9am. When the 30% reservation limit is reached you get the bad news, or the phone just rings without any recording. If you forget and don’t call ahead, the wait can be from 5 to 30 minutes, depending the time of night. Princess is missing out on a lot of possible cocktail income by not using the electronic beeper system other ships use successfully. It allows cruisers to have a drink, walk around, or shop instead of waiting in a long line.
Regal Princess does not serve lunch in any of the restaurants (except Concerto on “at sea” days, Noon to 1:30pm and breakfast from 7 to 9am) . They rely on the Horizon buffets to do the job, which it does VERY well. Best buffet I’ve seen on any of our cruises. You go back and forth, with many stations, to pick what you want. It’s all there, great variety and food is top notch. Check it all out before you dig in because something great is just around the corner. Once you get the hang of it, no problem. Seating is well laid out and you NEVER have trouble finding a nice table with a view. Most popular seemed to be the fantail (rear of ship) IF there was no wind. They switch back and forth between the Court and the Bistro (who knows why?). After a few days you realize what a great job Princess did on this one, another A+. Don’t miss the Pastry shop between the Bistro & the Court. Great oatmeal cookies and tons of goodies to please everybody. Why you pay extra for the Pastry shop on the Plaza deck I can’t answer.
Excursions are extremely well done. Orderly, well led, and priced fairly. We especially loved the Dubrovnik home visit with lunch. You don’t expect great food on these but it was very different and excellent, including the homemade wine, and outstanding entertainment. The old city tour, which came first, was crowded, but interesting. Unfortunately our Mykonos/Delos tour was cancelled because of high winds. We shifted to the Mykonos shuttle ($7 US each), and it was sunny and beautiful when we arrived. Tons of small shops with high tourist prices. Other trips were great. Some crowded, especially Capri. The guides were terrific, especially on our Ephesus tour. Most really earned their tips. Rate=A- for Princess.
Let’s start with the worst. The Internet. It’s always slow on any cruise ship, but speed on the Regal was excellent. Cost is fair (.33 cents to .79 cents a minute, depending on plan) +$3.50 for setup. Problem is it shuts down A LOT with no warning, BUT your time clock could still run, since you can’t logoff without access and it does not always log you off automatically—YOU MUST DO IT YOURSELF. This can run up your bill fast, and you can’t do anything about it. There is ONLY 1 manager aboard and he’s missing most of the time when you need him. His hours are limited, especially if you’re in port. THIS IS EXTREMELY POOR SERVICE FOR A SHIP OF THIS SIZE. Princess should have someone available from 8am to 10pm at least. I had to make trips down to correct problems and you have to be very patient trying to log on. Princess needs to improve here Big Time. Rating C-
TV’s are nice when working but they also shut down with no warning, especially if trying to watch the news (4 channels). Had to call housekeeping 2 times to get them working. We had two but never used 1 of them. Controls turned both on and off, useless, and a waste). One TV was ample. Rate C
Suite Cons-2: (not sure if this exists in other cabins). Poor handles to control the shower, pretty, but not well designed. Hard to grip slippery controls, lower temp handle was extremely hard to set properly. Upper one was not easy to use with soapy hands but you get better at it after a few days. Now we come to the balcony. A joke for a MINI-suite. It was only 4ft x 10 ft. with 2 chairs, a table and useless footrest. Princess really screwed up on this one. Rate Balcony F. Almost like an economy airplane seat.
Last Con is we heard a lot of complaints from cruisers on most of the Turkey tours. We’ve been thru it on previous Istanbul cruise, so it didn’t affect us this time, since we walked out. Last item at the end of the tour is billed as a “carpet weaving demo” but is actually a well organized ploy to get cruisers in a room to sell you expensive carpet. It is “hard sell” and Princess should drop this game. Many people we shared a table with went thru it and were not happy.
We really enjoyed this cruise, and even with the “little” CON things we still give Princess and overall A. They could make a few improvements and get an A+ easily. You will have a good time and can’t go wrong on this ship. Almost everything is perfect.