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Route: 22 day voyage: Warnemunde – Tallinn – St Petersburg – Helsinki – Stockholm – Copenhagen – Kristiansand – Bergen – Glasgow – Belfast – Cork – Boston – New York City 1. General Comments: We are regular cruisers, and this trip covered several places on our bucket list. We had the rare situation of sunshine at all stops; temperatures were in the 60s. We were a full ship with some 3,000+ passengers. Passengers were a real international mixture. We were mainly US, but there were large groups of Europeans, Asians, and even travellers all the way from Australia and New Zealand. Ages were from infants to really old folks (ie, older than I). We had a suite (11th deck) that made for a comfortable cruise. While the ride in the Baltic and North Seas was calm, we did do some rocking and rolling in the north Atlantic. The captain had to route us further south in the Ireland – Boston segment in order to avoid the worst of Tropical Storm Ian. We still felt it, but the effects were much reduced. 2. Travel to Germany and Embarking: We made our own flight arrangements to Berlin, but we did use the Princess hotel (Westin Berlin Grand) and transfer to the ship. The hotel is ideally located in downtown Berlin, and the Princess arrangements for pick-up at Tegel Airport, and bus transport to Warnemunde, were smooth. Unfortunately, due to traffic, the bus ride was nearly four hours long instead of the “normal” two and a half. 3. The Regal Princess: An attractive ship. Our suite was a delight with all the space and storage drawers/closets. Details can be seen in the cabin descriptions on the Princess website. The balcony is large; however, we hardly used it due to wind, rocking and rolling, occasional showers, or cool/cold (for us) temperatures. The flat screen TVs received the usual news, movies, music, etc. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are practically no announcements on the PA system. The Captain does a daily report from the bridge, and the Cruise Director may make a daily announcement on activities. There is no daily newspaper; you have to receive your news from BBC, Fox; financial news from CNBC or MSNBC; and sports from ESPN. The ship's WiFi website, princess@sea, is a great idea. It does not cost anything, and it gives you the daily program, activities, etc on your phone or pad. If you set up an account, you can check your shipboard bill. All in all, a very useful tool, since nearly everyone is going around with a phone or pad. The site also lists all restaurants, bars, etc with locations, hours, and menus. Currency exchange: The Front Desk had a very limited ability to change dollars and Euros; it depended on what it had on hand. There were a couple exchange machines on the 4th deck that could handle different currencies – bills only; no credit cards - and exchange them for any other currency. The machines’ rates were not great, plus they had a fee for each transaction. They were strictly a convenience. 4. Meals: We signed up for Anytime Dining, which is all on the 5th deck and on part of the 6th for part of the evening. You can only reserve a time and table on the same day as the meal; no early reservations. We never had to stand in line more than 20 minutes. That said, we were not thrilled with the organization of the staff. A meal never took less than one hour and often ran to nearly two hours. Initially we thought there were problems in the kitchen, but the food was well-prepared. We decided the issue was in the staff’s organization; they were literally continuously running around taking orders, serving, and clearing and setting tables. The noise level was also high. We were also informed that those of us who were on the Baltic cruise portion would see a repeat of menu items on the trans-Atlantic portion. Horizon Court: This popular spot for breakfast and lunch was amazing for dinner. Whenever we were not in the mood for the Dining Room, we went to this buffet; the variety and quality of the dishes available were outstanding. One would be hard pressed not to find something he would enjoy. The variety, especially, was far more than what was offered in the Dining Room. There was a theme night every night (French, Asian, even Tex-Mex, etc). The Bakery area certainly had no shortage of offerings. Yes, this is a buffet, but the tables are set, you can order wine, and you can enjoy as much or as little as you desire. Other eateries: We had one meal in the specialty restaurant, Sabatini’s. Good food, wine, service, and ambiance. Go hungry, though. The Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar served excellent sushi and sashimi. Alfredo’s, a no charge eatery (except for wine and beer), served simple, but good and freshly baked, pizzas for lunch. 5. Princess dress code: There were five formal nights; the ship snuck in the 5th, as the Princess website said there would be only four. The other nights were all “smart casual.” “Formal” for men meant mainly suits and sport coats; tuxedos were a minority. Casual was just that; most men did wear shirts instead of t-shirts. 6. Shore Excursions: Make your shore excursion reservations on-line! This saves you standing in line at the ship’s tour desk. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. Tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ship’s staff, you have support when there is a problem. There was no tendering on this trip. At the port, Nynashamn, for Stockholm, the Swedes have invented a mobile, floating walkway that hooks up to the ship. You walk on this ingenious system to the pier. All the tours were well conducted and interesting. Tours in Russia are strenuous and bureaucratic. You have to process through immigration when you leave – and return to – the ship EVERY TIME. You do not need a visa if you are on a Princess organized tour. You are not to leave your tour group to strike out on your own. You do, however, see a lot of St Petersburg. As a reflection of the current world we live in, everyone on the ship had to appear before British immigration authorities as we sailed from Bergen to Glasgow. After that, on the same day, the passports of all non-EU citizens (US, et al) were collected for review by Irish immigration authorities; they were returned to us after we left Ireland for Boston. The procedures were such that we did not need to carry our passports in either the UK or Ireland. 7. Shipboard entertainment: We saw two of the individual entertainers but none of the “show” performances. The two were talented and enjoyable. The ship’s pianists, bands, and the string quartet, rotate through the lounges and on the piazza. The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: lectures, bingo, exercising, movies, etc, etc. The library was pitiful; load up your Kindle or iPad with books before boarding. The art auctions were mercifully unobtrusive. The casino seemed to have good business. According to UK customs regulations, the casino was closed when the ship arrived in British waters and could not reopen until 3 ½ hours after we left these waters and were in Irish jurisdiction. The selection of duty-free liquor on board was not great, but adequate; you order your liquor and it is delivered to your cabin the day before disembarking. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. 8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts. The amounts are charged to each person’s shipboard account. You have nothing more to do. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service. Your bar and wine bill automatically adds 15 percent. If you want to tip anyone for exemplary service, you can give him cash in an envelope. 9. Settling of Accounts: During your voyage, anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos, etc) is punched into a computer. We received no receipts for bar purchases or wine. The shops did give you a receipt. Unless you keep your own notes on what you charged on your account, you will not have a clear idea of your bill until departure. This is another reason to sign up for the ship’s WiFi website so that you can track your charges. Also, there are a couple printers in the Front Desk area where you can swipe your room key card and get an immediate printout of your current bill. You should be able to settle any bill questions beforehand and not spend departure morning in line at the Front Desk sorting it out. You do receive a final bill on disembarkation morning. 10. Disembarkation: First, we went through US immigration on board when we arrived in Boston. This was a bit of a zoo as everyone – including crew – had to appear before an immigration officer. The ship failed to announce there were two lines, one for US passport holders and one for all others. When we learned (on an elevator) that there were two lines, we found the US line was short, and we were through in ten minutes. The other line extended nearly half the length of the ship and took forever. Disembarking in Brooklyn: We arrived and docked on time. However there was at least a 40 minute delay as there was some issue from Port authorities on the unloading of baggage. When that was sorted out, disembarking went very smoothly, and there were no delays. Once we got off the ship, we picked up our luggage, cleared customs, got to the transfer bus to the airport, and we were on our way. 11. Conclusion: This was an enjoyable and fascinating trip. It was also tiring, given the number of ports and few early sea days. The five days travelling from Ireland to Boston were a needed respite to recover and refresh from the overload of sights. We would certainly sail on this ship again…but on a different itinerary.

Baltic/Trans-Atlantic Cruise, September 2 – 24, 2016

Regal Princess Cruise Review by Harbor1492

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Route: 22 day voyage: Warnemunde – Tallinn – St Petersburg – Helsinki – Stockholm – Copenhagen – Kristiansand – Bergen – Glasgow – Belfast – Cork – Boston – New York City

1. General Comments: We are regular cruisers, and this trip covered several places on our bucket list. We had the rare situation of sunshine at all stops; temperatures were in the 60s. We were a full ship with some 3,000+ passengers. Passengers were a real international mixture. We were mainly US, but there were large groups of Europeans, Asians, and even travellers all the way from Australia and New Zealand. Ages were from infants to really old folks (ie, older than I).

We had a suite (11th deck) that made for a comfortable cruise. While the ride in the Baltic and North Seas was calm, we did do some rocking and rolling in the north Atlantic. The captain had to route us further south in the Ireland – Boston segment in order to avoid the worst of Tropical Storm Ian. We still felt it, but the effects were much reduced.

2. Travel to Germany and Embarking: We made our own flight arrangements to Berlin, but we did use the Princess hotel (Westin Berlin Grand) and transfer to the ship. The hotel is ideally located in downtown Berlin, and the Princess arrangements for pick-up at Tegel Airport, and bus transport to Warnemunde, were smooth. Unfortunately, due to traffic, the bus ride was nearly four hours long instead of the “normal” two and a half.

3. The Regal Princess: An attractive ship. Our suite was a delight with all the space and storage drawers/closets. Details can be seen in the cabin descriptions on the Princess website. The balcony is large; however, we hardly used it due to wind, rocking and rolling, occasional showers, or cool/cold (for us) temperatures. The flat screen TVs received the usual news, movies, music, etc. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are practically no announcements on the PA system. The Captain does a daily report from the bridge, and the Cruise Director may make a daily announcement on activities. There is no daily newspaper; you have to receive your news from BBC, Fox; financial news from CNBC or MSNBC; and sports from ESPN.

The ship's WiFi website, princess@sea, is a great idea. It does not cost anything, and it gives you the daily program, activities, etc on your phone or pad. If you set up an account, you can check your shipboard bill. All in all, a very useful tool, since nearly everyone is going around with a phone or pad. The site also lists all restaurants, bars, etc with locations, hours, and menus.

Currency exchange: The Front Desk had a very limited ability to change dollars and Euros; it depended on what it had on hand. There were a couple exchange machines on the 4th deck that could handle different currencies – bills only; no credit cards - and exchange them for any other currency. The machines’ rates were not great, plus they had a fee for each transaction. They were strictly a convenience.

4. Meals: We signed up for Anytime Dining, which is all on the 5th deck and on part of the 6th for part of the evening. You can only reserve a time and table on the same day as the meal; no early reservations. We never had to stand in line more than 20 minutes. That said, we were not thrilled with the organization of the staff. A meal never took less than one hour and often ran to nearly two hours. Initially we thought there were problems in the kitchen, but the food was well-prepared. We decided the issue was in the staff’s organization; they were literally continuously running around taking orders, serving, and clearing and setting tables. The noise level was also high. We were also informed that those of us who were on the Baltic cruise portion would see a repeat of menu items on the trans-Atlantic portion.

Horizon Court: This popular spot for breakfast and lunch was amazing for dinner. Whenever we were not in the mood for the Dining Room, we went to this buffet; the variety and quality of the dishes available were outstanding. One would be hard pressed not to find something he would enjoy. The variety, especially, was far more than what was offered in the Dining Room. There was a theme night every night (French, Asian, even Tex-Mex, etc). The Bakery area certainly had no shortage of offerings. Yes, this is a buffet, but the tables are set, you can order wine, and you can enjoy as much or as little as you desire.

Other eateries: We had one meal in the specialty restaurant, Sabatini’s. Good food, wine, service, and ambiance. Go hungry, though. The Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar served excellent sushi and sashimi. Alfredo’s, a no charge eatery (except for wine and beer), served simple, but good and freshly baked, pizzas for lunch.

5. Princess dress code: There were five formal nights; the ship snuck in the 5th, as the Princess website said there would be only four. The other nights were all “smart casual.” “Formal” for men meant mainly suits and sport coats; tuxedos were a minority. Casual was just that; most men did wear shirts instead of t-shirts.

6. Shore Excursions: Make your shore excursion reservations on-line! This saves you standing in line at the ship’s tour desk. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. Tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ship’s staff, you have support when there is a problem.

There was no tendering on this trip. At the port, Nynashamn, for Stockholm, the Swedes have invented a mobile, floating walkway that hooks up to the ship. You walk on this ingenious system to the pier.

All the tours were well conducted and interesting. Tours in Russia are strenuous and bureaucratic. You have to process through immigration when you leave – and return to – the ship EVERY TIME. You do not need a visa if you are on a Princess organized tour. You are not to leave your tour group to strike out on your own. You do, however, see a lot of St Petersburg.

As a reflection of the current world we live in, everyone on the ship had to appear before British immigration authorities as we sailed from Bergen to Glasgow. After that, on the same day, the passports of all non-EU citizens (US, et al) were collected for review by Irish immigration authorities; they were returned to us after we left Ireland for Boston. The procedures were such that we did not need to carry our passports in either the UK or Ireland.

7. Shipboard entertainment: We saw two of the individual entertainers but none of the “show” performances. The two were talented and enjoyable. The ship’s pianists, bands, and the string quartet, rotate through the lounges and on the piazza. The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: lectures, bingo, exercising, movies, etc, etc. The library was pitiful; load up your Kindle or iPad with books before boarding. The art auctions were mercifully unobtrusive.

The casino seemed to have good business. According to UK customs regulations, the casino was closed when the ship arrived in British waters and could not reopen until 3 ½ hours after we left these waters and were in Irish jurisdiction. The selection of duty-free liquor on board was not great, but adequate; you order your liquor and it is delivered to your cabin the day before disembarking. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir.

8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts.

The amounts are charged to each person’s shipboard account. You have nothing more to do. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service. Your bar and wine bill automatically adds 15 percent.

If you want to tip anyone for exemplary service, you can give him cash in an envelope.

9. Settling of Accounts: During your voyage, anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos, etc) is punched into a computer. We received no receipts for bar purchases or wine. The shops did give you a receipt. Unless you keep your own notes on what you charged on your account, you will not have a clear idea of your bill until departure. This is another reason to sign up for the ship’s WiFi website so that you can track your charges. Also, there are a couple printers in the Front Desk area where you can swipe your room key card and get an immediate printout of your current bill. You should be able to settle any bill questions beforehand and not spend departure morning in line at the Front Desk sorting it out. You do receive a final bill on disembarkation morning.

10. Disembarkation: First, we went through US immigration on board when we arrived in Boston. This was a bit of a zoo as everyone – including crew – had to appear before an immigration officer. The ship failed to announce there were two lines, one for US passport holders and one for all others. When we learned (on an elevator) that there were two lines, we found the US line was short, and we were through in ten minutes. The other line extended nearly half the length of the ship and took forever.

Disembarking in Brooklyn: We arrived and docked on time. However there was at least a 40 minute delay as there was some issue from Port authorities on the unloading of baggage. When that was sorted out, disembarking went very smoothly, and there were no delays. Once we got off the ship, we picked up our luggage, cleared customs, got to the transfer bus to the airport, and we were on our way.

11. Conclusion: This was an enjoyable and fascinating trip. It was also tiring, given the number of ports and few early sea days. The five days travelling from Ireland to Boston were a needed respite to recover and refresh from the overload of sights. We would certainly sail on this ship again…but on a different itinerary.
Harbor1492’s Full Rating Summary
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