The Ship - The Regal Princess is a gorgeous ship. The use of wood and earth tones throughout gives it an elegant yet warm and welcoming feel. Areas of the ship were easy to locate. Our cabin was located in the back of the ship so it was easy to get to the Horizon Court and the Promenade. But it does have a few quirks. The elevators on most decks do not have an indicator light above the doorways to signal when an elevator has arrived. We found ourselves scrambling to get to the elevator before the doors closed. The seating in the Vista Lounge is not easily accessible and very cumbersome for both passengers and wait staff. They have barrel shaped chairs that are impossible to get into and located in front of the sofas and cocktail tables. The seating in the Princess Theater no longer has the little tables that pop out from the arms of the chairs for drinks. So, if you want a drink, its up to you to figure out what you're going to do with the glass.
The Entertainment - The Princess singers and dancers were outstanding. Their level of performance in Fiera and Bravo was incredible. The choreography in both productions was superb. Most of the guest entertainers were ok. I thought they had too many of the same kind of performer. The string quartet was very good and they performed regularly in the Piazza with a featured performance in the Vista Lounge. If you like to dance or even just to listen to good music, they had a very nice quartet band that played most nights in the Piazza.
The Activities - During the Mediterranean leg of the 29 day voyage, I wasn't expecting a lot for activities for obvious reasons. Passengers would be going on excursions or exploring ports of call. However, once we got to the maiden crossing of the Atlantic, I was expecting to be fully engaged in activities. After all, we going to be out at sea for 7 straight days. Unfortunately, most of the activities or enrichment type programs were uninspiring. Most of the culinary demonstrations they had I either have seen before or I have cooked the dish at home. The lecture on TV's funniest moments was entertaining, but I have seen similar lectures done by the same guy. The lectures on ocean liners, the Titanic and the Princes of Wales, were somewhat interesting but a bit on the dry side. I was expecting that once we were out at sea for 7 days, they would offer something for Creativity at Sea, but nothing ever showed up in the Patter.
Dining - For starters, the coffee served in the Horizon Court was always lukewarm or cold. We had to request for very hot coffee or we would go to the Horizon Bistro to the self serve station and get our coffee there. It was always hot at the self serve station. The coffee served in the Symphony dining room, however, was always served very hot. Go figure. The quality of food served in the Horizon Court during dinner has declined greatly. The toast, bagels or English muffins in the morning were always toasted too far in advance of serving, making the items as hard as rocks by the time the passenger got to them. And no one seemed to be around when you wanted a fresh slice of bread or muffin toasted. For most of the dinner buffets, it appeared as if the chef looked into the refrigerator and decided that he it was too much effort to prepare something fresh and original so lets just serve the leftovers from the day before. On past cruises with Princess, if a passenger chose not to go to the dining room for formal night, they could still get the same menu items in the Horizon Court. On this voyage, it was not the case. The last formal night of the transatlantic crossing was beyond awful. As I stated previously, it looked like the chef in the Horizon was too lazy to prepare what was being offered in the dining room and brought out all the leftovers. There were a few exceptions. The Bavarian and Indian buffets were very good. The menu items offered in the Symphony Dining room were for the most part boring. Maybe it's because I do a lot of cooking at home, but the food served in the "free" dining options was not the best I have had on Princess.
Special culinary events - One of the best events I ever experienced on Princess was the Indian festival of lights. The food was exceptional. However the organization of the event was not thought out well. The event took place in the Piazza. And although the presentation of the buffets was spectacular, it was lost in the lack of organization of handling 3000 + passengers that might partake in this spectacular event. To me, it would have made more sense to have the buffet in one of the dining rooms or at least offered the dining room as a place where you could really enjoy the food. With the limited amount of seating available in the Piazza and the huge turnout of passengers, it was pure chaos.
The ports of call - Although the excursions offered by Princess was expensive, the ones to Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast and Ephesus were very well done. It all depends on the tour guide you get, and with all three of these tours we had excellent guides. The excursion to the Amalfi Coast was exceptional.
Overall, what saved this cruise experience for us were the excursions, ports of call, the entertainment and the service. Unfortunately, it might be a while before my husband and I are a returning passenger of Princess Cruises.