The reason we picked this cruise was because of the itinerary and the overnight stay in St Petersburg, Russia. We had over 10 cruises in the past 2 years with different cruise lines and have been cruising with Royal Caribbean most of the time, so we thought it would be nice to try Regal Princess for this Baltic/Scandinavia trip. This was a family cruise with my husband, our 2 young children, my mom, and my aunt.
However, we were very disappointed with Regal Princess. The ship layout was similar to Disney Dream, so there was no wow factors, and no high ceilings in the Dining Room. The ship décor was pretty outdated and tacky. The service and food were overrated. We were used to RCI's Junior Suite, but Regal Princess' mini suite was smaller than RCI's regular balcony room, with no walk-in closet and very little storage space! The balcony & bathroom were very tiny. When we arrived, we were shocked by how dirty our room was! There were dusts on the vanity table, coffee table, night stands, bathroom countertop, bathtub, glass shelves. There were hair and dirt in the drawers. We found leftover food and drinks from the previous passengers in the mini fridge. My mom and my aunt's Balcony room was even worse. It had only 1 chair, as it didn't even fit a sofa!
The Medallion didn't work on the 1st day, and this Medallion is overrated as well. We preferred the traditional Key Card which we could carry in our wallets, instead of wearing the metal piece (Medallion) like a pet. The apps were a joke. We needed to download quite a few apps, one for pre-cruise check in (Ocean Ready) and a few others during On-Board.... And the apps were not even that great. We didn't understand why couldn't they put everything into one single app?
The variety of food at the Horizon Buffet was nice. During meal times (even dinner time!) and Sea Days, it was very hard to find a table. If the buffet was crowded during dinner time, it told you that the food at the dining room was horrible. The breakfast buffet was the same every morning, and the selection was fantastic! I love the smoked salmon. Lunch and dinner consisted of traditional American staples, Asian, Indian, European, and theme cuisine. We were disappointed that the desserts were mostly Americanized (way too sweet) in this Baltic sailing. Many cakes were too sweet to a point that we could swallow. We miss our Royal Caribbean desserts, which was more European style with less sugar and more delicate. We did like the Afternoon tea, as the English scones were as good as those at InterContinental Hotel HK.
Dining room service was ok. On Day 1, when we arrived Concerto Dining Room for Traditional Dining but found out our assigned table was occupied by another party. So, it turned out Regal Princess made a mistake. No big deal, they seated us at another table temporarily that evening. The head waitress was awesome. The assistant waiter was friendly at the beginning, but once he found that we were there for only one evening, his attitude changed immediately. From then on, he didn't want to serve us, so the head waitress needed to work super hard, including taking orders, bringing out dishes, and cleaning up. We felt bad for her, so we gave her some tip after dinner.
The next evening, they re-assigned us to Allegro Dining Room for the traditional dining, and the waiters were great, thoughtful, friendly, and professional. The quality was the food wasn't to our standard. The fish dishes were always dry and overcooked. The steak quality was bad. The mussels were tough. Food was too salty most of the time. There was one time that my daughter's salmon has turned bad due to poor food handling. The only evening that was excellent was on the 2nd Formal Night, with delicious Escargots that resembles those at the 5-star hotel, lobsters that was fresh, and quality prime rib that was perfectly prepared.
We like the Afternoon Tea time (3pm to 4pm) at Allegro Dining Room. However, we had a horrible incident on Day 10. We were going to meet up my aunt for afternoon tea. My aunt arrived the dining room first, and we were 10 min late because we got lost in Deck 6. My aunt asked for a table for 6, but the manager didn't let her go in because the rest of the party wasn't there yet. My aunt was 71 years old and just had radiation treatments for her breast cancer, so she was very tired all the time. In addition, she didn't have lunch that day and was starving by 3pm. So she asked the manager if she could have a small table and eat by herself first, as she was very hungry. But the manager still insisted no, and had her wait out there. Once we arrived, the manager was shocked that my husband, my kids, and I could speak English fluently (we are Asian-Americans). Then, his attitude changed completely, and was super sweet to us and treated us like VIP (What a jerk!)! Throughout the afternoon tea, we were not very happy with this manager for not respecting his wait staff and treating them like slaves by screaming at them and commanding them like slaves. The waiters and waitress were very efficient though. They were very nice to our two young children. The scones, pastries, and mini sandwiches were amazing.
The service at International Cafe was a hit or miss. The crew member who served us was very nice, but the one who served my aunt was horrible. She mistreated my aunt just because my aunt spoke broken English.
Sabatini's was disappointing. The dishes, including the complimentary bread sticks, were mostly deep fried at some point during the cooking process. This was not how Italian cuisine supposed to be. The seafood dish that I had was overcooked and tasteless. The menu of this Sabatini's on Regal Princess was totally different from the Sabatini's locations on Land.
The Fitness Center was small, but served my needs. The machines were so close next to each other that I could smell the sweat of the man on the elliptical next to me.
Shopping was very limited, as we were expecting more name brand shops such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Coach, Cartier, and so on.
The kids' club was one of the best, with very attentive staff and fun games & activities. Our kids (7 and 8 years old) had a blast! They looked forward to Sea Days, because they wanted to go to the kids' club. However, other than that, there wasn't really anything for them to do while on this ship.
The photography team was the best of all! All of them were very helpful and very good at their profession. The photo quality was the best out of all the cruises that we have had! We purchased the pre-cruise package deal at $199, which came with all print and digital copies. We took almost 300 photos in total!
The service on the ship was not up to standard. The crew members seemed to be unhappy, comparing to RCI. We even witnessed how the supervisors yelled at the crew members and called them names (e.g. "You stupid!") in front of the passengers.
The Internet service was slow and unstable, even at the ports. It made it very challenging for us to work and conduct our business transactions and bank transactions during the evenings on board. We missed the Royal Caribbean's VOOM, which was the fastest internet service at sea, even in Europe.
The excursions were amazing, which made our trip unforgettable, despite of the poor service and food on the cruise ship. We signed up the Discovery Exclusive tour in St Petersburg, where we could tour the palaces during the before and after hours, in order to avoid the crowds. At Catherine Place, we had an exclusive tour of the garden and the palace at night (after the palace was closed to the public), followed by the orchestra and Royal Dance performance in the grand Reception Room. The ball room was even more splendid at night, and the dancers in costumer brought you back in time. It was truly a one-of-a-kind experience which would last for a life time!
Another thing that we did like about Princess Cruise is that it provided very informative and educational materials about all the ports and cities every evening. We wish that the other cruise lines could do the same thing too.
In general, we loved our excursion tours offered by Princess Cruises (especially the Discovery Exclusive ones), but not the cruise ship itself. We didn't regret for sailing with Regal Princess, because we were all about trying different things (Hey, at least, we tried it!). However, we will definitely go back to Royal Caribbean, or try another cruise line, in the future, unless there is an itinerary that we liked very much and is offered by Princess Cruise only.
We were used to RCI's Junior Suite, so we were shocked by how small Regal Princess' mini suite was! It was smaller than RCI's regular balcony room, with no walk-in closet and very little storage space! The balcony & bathroom were very tiny. When we arrived, we were shocked by how dirty our room was! There were dusts on the vanity table, coffee table, night stands, bathroom countertop, bathtub, glass shelves. There were hair and dirt in the drawers. We found leftover food and drinks from the previous passengers in the mini fridge.