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BACKGROUND American couple, both in lower 50s cruising for the 5th time on a Baltic cruise that included stops in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Estonia, and Russia. Port intensive with only 2 sea days over the 11 day cruise. Stop in St. Petersburg was overnight providing two available days for touring. Prior cruises were Alaska, Caribbean (2), and Eastern Med. This was our second cruise with Princess (prior was on Ruby Princess). EMBARKATION Arrived at 11:30, was checked in before noon, and bags were at our room when we arrived right after lunch. Extremely smooth boarding in Copenhagen. Princess has perfected the boarding experience! CABIN Mini Suite on Aloha deck (12) in room A403. Full size bathtub and shower plus tons of storage space in the room. Balcony was small but we spent little time on it. We liked the room and felt the extra $400 we paid for the mini-suite compared to our original balcony room was well worth it (Princess promotion)! It’s worth mentioning that our room and many others were in full view of people walking on the Sea Walk. I am surprised that the designers did it this way! THE SHIP The Regal Princess is a new ship and showed no visible wear. The public areas were well equipped and there were plenty of swimming pools and areas for quiet reading. The fitness center was decently sized and we never had to wait for a treadmill. Before we had left for our cruise, we read about people complaining about the lack of a mid-ship staircase and thought this would not be a big deal for us. We were wrong – this is a big deal. Being forced to use elevators mid-ship (or walk fore/aft to the stairs) created an inconvenience several times. Elevator wait times could be long. It would have been great to have had a mid-ship staircase so that able people could skip the elevators without walking half the ship-length to get to the stairs. SERVICE Simply outstanding. Cabin steward kept our room spotless and staff always greeted us with a hello and smile. Princess does great service! FOOD Based on prior readers’ comments, we were surprised how average we thought the food was. The MDR was fine, but not outstanding. We ate at Sabatini’s specialty restaurant and it was very good. One of the big surprises was how difficult finding food at the buffet was. The setup is basically a 4 block buffet (two in horizon court, two in horizon bistro) plus a dessert room between the bistro blocks. Because the buffet area is so spread out, it was often difficult to find what you wanted without walking a considerable distance. The quality of the buffet food was also average in our opinion. We have cruised with Princess before and the food was better in 2013 on the Ruby Princess. Princess needs to have more water/coffee self-service stations throughout the ship. ENTERTAINMENT This was a very pleasant surprise. We thought the entertainment on this particular cruise was the best we had seen on any of our cruises. The stage shows (there were four different song and dance shows) were fantastic, the comedian was very funny, and the piano vocalist Tatianna was a true highlight. There was also a great string quartet that performed often and a rock/pop band (Rhapsody) that was also popular. In addition to these performers, the Beatlemaniacs (Beatles tribute band) performed twice (concert one night and dance band another night) and were incredible! Two years ago I wrote about how weak the entertainment was on the Ruby – this was the complete opposite. I’m not sure we’ll ever see better entertainment on a cruise than we did with this one. A constructive suggestion for Sam the cruise director would be to remove the chairs from the Piazza when the Beatlemaniacs perform. There was not enough room on the dance floor for this particular band. EXCURSIONS This was a port intensive cruise and we only signed up for a few Princess excursions. The most notable being the two-day St. Petersburg experience with an evening visit to Catherine’s Palace. In many cities we used the Hop-On-Hop-Off (HOHO) buses. They picked up and dropped off at the pier and allowed us the chance to see just about everything we wanted to see at our own pace. Quick summary: Copenhagen – stayed overnight before the cruise in the Copenhagen Marriott. Very nice hotel and had river view. VIP lounge was crowded and breakfast in lounge was good enough! Really enjoyed Tivoli Gardens as a way to end a long day of travel and sightseeing. Used Copenhagen Card for all transportation (including canal cruise) and museums. Oslo – HOHO Bus. Visited the Viking Museum, saw The Scream at the National Gallery and visited Vigeland Sculpture park – we really enjoyed Oslo. Gothenberg – took Princess’ Archipelago tour – would not recommend this. Our suggestion is that Gothenberg be replaced with a stop in Latvia since there is another stop in Sweden anyways. Warnemunde – took the Sachsenhausen concentration camp tour excursion. In addition to the camp, we were given a driving tour of Berlin with stops at the Brandenburg Gate, the Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie. This was an excellent tour that included a great lunch provided by Princess. My only negative comment is that the train ride to and from Berlin took almost 3 hours each way and was not climate controlled. The ride was long and hot with the faint smell of urine throughout the car (it was next to the bathroom). I’m not sure the 5 hours in the city was worth the 7 hours of travel. There was added travel time as one group was very late returning to the train station. Tallin – Great old town with a nice walking tour. Also took HOHO bus tour. Helsinki – used HOHO bus and saw all the major sights. Stockholm – rather than dock in Nynashamn as planned, we were allowed to dock directly in the Port of Stockholm as the weather conditions were ideal. Enjoyed walking Stockholm and had one of the best meals of the trip in an alleyway restaurant in Gamla Stan. St. Petersburg – Took the full 2-day tour offered by Princess that included an evening segment at Catherine’s Palace. We saw so many wonderful things/places but it was exhausting. We started before 7 am on Day 1 and returned to our hotel at midnight. Day 2 then began again at 7 am ending around 4 pm. I have to say I was a little surprised and disappointed by our tour guide. Usually, the guides are very knowledgeable and personable. However, our guide was generally unapproachable and by the end of the two days, folks were afraid to ask any questions because they thought they would get yelled at. The guide seemed focused on telling us statistical superlatives about the sites (e.g. most pillars, weight of materials) rather than keeping the message simple about what we were seeing and how it fit into Russian history. She also did not share any information about life in her country like our Swedish and German guides did. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the experience overall and are glad we did it. DISEMBARKING We ended the cruise in Copenhagen and used Princess' transfer service to the airport. Copenhagen is a busy airport and there were only two counter spots serving KLM/Air France at the airport leading to very long lines with a bit of confusion. Eventually a third line opened when the first two lines didn’t move for 20 minutes. Bottom line is that from the meeting time on the ship to the time we arrived at our gate ready to board the plane, more than 3 hours had passed. That seems unusually long for a 13 mile bus ride and simple luggage check in. Princess might want to consider having their own concierge service for a nominal charge to make things easier. I’m pretty sure many people would be willing to pay the extra cost to save the hassle. SUMMARY All in all this was a nice cruise with interesting ports and we enjoyed it.

Many Surprises; Some Good, Some Not

Regal Princess Cruise Review by cruzinfromnowon

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2015
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
BACKGROUND

American couple, both in lower 50s cruising for the 5th time on a Baltic cruise that included stops in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Estonia, and Russia. Port intensive with only 2 sea days over the 11 day cruise. Stop in St. Petersburg was overnight providing two available days for touring. Prior cruises were Alaska, Caribbean (2), and Eastern Med. This was our second cruise with Princess (prior was on Ruby Princess).

EMBARKATION

Arrived at 11:30, was checked in before noon, and bags were at our room when we arrived right after lunch. Extremely smooth boarding in Copenhagen. Princess has perfected the boarding experience!

CABIN

Mini Suite on Aloha deck (12) in room A403. Full size bathtub and shower plus tons of storage space in the room. Balcony was small but we spent little time on it. We liked the room and felt the extra $400 we paid for the mini-suite compared to our original balcony room was well worth it (Princess promotion)! It’s worth mentioning that our room and many others were in full view of people walking on the Sea Walk. I am surprised that the designers did it this way!

THE SHIP

The Regal Princess is a new ship and showed no visible wear. The public areas were well equipped and there were plenty of swimming pools and areas for quiet reading. The fitness center was decently sized and we never had to wait for a treadmill. Before we had left for our cruise, we read about people complaining about the lack of a mid-ship staircase and thought this would not be a big deal for us. We were wrong – this is a big deal. Being forced to use elevators mid-ship (or walk fore/aft to the stairs) created an inconvenience several times. Elevator wait times could be long. It would have been great to have had a mid-ship staircase so that able people could skip the elevators without walking half the ship-length to get to the stairs.

SERVICE

Simply outstanding. Cabin steward kept our room spotless and staff always greeted us with a hello and smile. Princess does great service!

FOOD

Based on prior readers’ comments, we were surprised how average we thought the food was. The MDR was fine, but not outstanding. We ate at Sabatini’s specialty restaurant and it was very good. One of the big surprises was how difficult finding food at the buffet was. The setup is basically a 4 block buffet (two in horizon court, two in horizon bistro) plus a dessert room between the bistro blocks. Because the buffet area is so spread out, it was often difficult to find what you wanted without walking a considerable distance. The quality of the buffet food was also average in our opinion. We have cruised with Princess before and the food was better in 2013 on the Ruby Princess. Princess needs to have more water/coffee self-service stations throughout the ship.

ENTERTAINMENT

This was a very pleasant surprise. We thought the entertainment on this particular cruise was the best we had seen on any of our cruises. The stage shows (there were four different song and dance shows) were fantastic, the comedian was very funny, and the piano vocalist Tatianna was a true highlight. There was also a great string quartet that performed often and a rock/pop band (Rhapsody) that was also popular. In addition to these performers, the Beatlemaniacs (Beatles tribute band) performed twice (concert one night and dance band another night) and were incredible! Two years ago I wrote about how weak the entertainment was on the Ruby – this was the complete opposite. I’m not sure we’ll ever see better entertainment on a cruise than we did with this one. A constructive suggestion for Sam the cruise director would be to remove the chairs from the Piazza when the Beatlemaniacs perform. There was not enough room on the dance floor for this particular band.

EXCURSIONS

This was a port intensive cruise and we only signed up for a few Princess excursions. The most notable being the two-day St. Petersburg experience with an evening visit to Catherine’s Palace. In many cities we used the Hop-On-Hop-Off (HOHO) buses. They picked up and dropped off at the pier and allowed us the chance to see just about everything we wanted to see at our own pace.

Quick summary:

Copenhagen – stayed overnight before the cruise in the Copenhagen Marriott. Very nice hotel and had river view. VIP lounge was crowded and breakfast in lounge was good enough! Really enjoyed Tivoli Gardens as a way to end a long day of travel and sightseeing. Used Copenhagen Card for all transportation (including canal cruise) and museums.

Oslo – HOHO Bus. Visited the Viking Museum, saw The Scream at the National Gallery and visited Vigeland Sculpture park – we really enjoyed Oslo.

Gothenberg – took Princess’ Archipelago tour – would not recommend this. Our suggestion is that Gothenberg be replaced with a stop in Latvia since there is another stop in Sweden anyways.

Warnemunde – took the Sachsenhausen concentration camp tour excursion. In addition to the camp, we were given a driving tour of Berlin with stops at the Brandenburg Gate, the Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie. This was an excellent tour that included a great lunch provided by Princess. My only negative comment is that the train ride to and from Berlin took almost 3 hours each way and was not climate controlled. The ride was long and hot with the faint smell of urine throughout the car (it was next to the bathroom). I’m not sure the 5 hours in the city was worth the 7 hours of travel. There was added travel time as one group was very late returning to the train station.

Tallin – Great old town with a nice walking tour. Also took HOHO bus tour.

Helsinki – used HOHO bus and saw all the major sights.

Stockholm – rather than dock in Nynashamn as planned, we were allowed to dock directly in the Port of Stockholm as the weather conditions were ideal. Enjoyed walking Stockholm and had one of the best meals of the trip in an alleyway restaurant in Gamla Stan.

St. Petersburg – Took the full 2-day tour offered by Princess that included an evening segment at Catherine’s Palace. We saw so many wonderful things/places but it was exhausting. We started before 7 am on Day 1 and returned to our hotel at midnight. Day 2 then began again at 7 am ending around 4 pm. I have to say I was a little surprised and disappointed by our tour guide. Usually, the guides are very knowledgeable and personable. However, our guide was generally unapproachable and by the end of the two days, folks were afraid to ask any questions because they thought they would get yelled at. The guide seemed focused on telling us statistical superlatives about the sites (e.g. most pillars, weight of materials) rather than keeping the message simple about what we were seeing and how it fit into Russian history. She also did not share any information about life in her country like our Swedish and German guides did. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the experience overall and are glad we did it.

DISEMBARKING

We ended the cruise in Copenhagen and used Princess' transfer service to the airport. Copenhagen is a busy airport and there were only two counter spots serving KLM/Air France at the airport leading to very long lines with a bit of confusion. Eventually a third line opened when the first two lines didn’t move for 20 minutes. Bottom line is that from the meeting time on the ship to the time we arrived at our gate ready to board the plane, more than 3 hours had passed. That seems unusually long for a 13 mile bus ride and simple luggage check in. Princess might want to consider having their own concierge service for a nominal charge to make things easier. I’m pretty sure many people would be willing to pay the extra cost to save the hassle.

SUMMARY

All in all this was a nice cruise with interesting ports and we enjoyed it.
cruzinfromnowon’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MA A403
Mini Suite on Aloha deck (12) in room A403. Full size bathtub and shower plus tons of storage space in the room. Balcony was small but we spent little time on it. We liked the room and felt the extra $400 we paid for the mini-suite compared to our original balcony room was well worth it (Princess promotion)! It’s worth mentioning that our room and many others were in full view of people walking on the Sea Walk. I am surprised that the designers did it this way!
Riviera Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews