We chose this cruise to enjoy the fall scenery of Canada, view the whales and other sea life of the St Laurence Seaway and visit Quebec City. When we embarked in Montreal on Tuesday we were not informed of a mechanical failure that ... Read More
We chose this cruise to enjoy the fall scenery of Canada, view the whales and other sea life of the St Laurence Seaway and visit Quebec City. When we embarked in Montreal on Tuesday we were not informed of a mechanical failure that occurred when the boat was arriving. Only after awakening Wednesday to the same view did we realize we were still in Montreal and then we were informed of a "small" "technical" "problem" and repairs would allow for a prompt departure. The staff did not go out of their way to develop more excursions. They just provided a $50 credit for us to buy "hop on, hop off" bus tickets. We awoke Thursday to the same view, but the ship had been relocated to a filthy industrial pier filled with containers, among other unattractive items and a splended view of large, rusting grain elevators. They then advised that the Canadian authorities now required an ocean tug to accompany the ship up the St Laurence. So, our departure was now further delayed by "forces beyond the control of the ship" in the ill chosen words of Silversea management, because we had to await the arrival of the tug. This generated concern among the passengers. What was the nature of the "technical problems" and had they been completely addressed and repaired? Why was a tug escort required? We received no answers, but Silversea gave a 30% cash refund. Then they altered the itinerary to canceling stops at the naturalists attractions ports of Saguenay, Baie Comeau , Gaspe, and Charlottetown. Instead, we will be hightailing it to the coal mining town of Sydney and then on to the large city of Halifax. Silversea does not care to try to make amends for their mistakes of not properly maintaining this older vessel. Instead they punish the customers on top of our 3 days in Montreal by canceling the most attractive portion of the cruise. I think they want to get the boat back to a large city for repairs. I will never set foot on a Silversea ship again. As an aside, on our previous Silversea cruise , our stateroom flooded and we were moved to an inferior room Read Less
This cruise was awesome, even though we sailed through the remnants of hurricane Michael. (More about that later)
We flew into JFK, arriving at about 9am. Airline temporarily lost our luggage and we waited for what seemed to be ... Read More
This cruise was awesome, even though we sailed through the remnants of hurricane Michael. (More about that later)
We flew into JFK, arriving at about 9am. Airline temporarily lost our luggage and we waited for what seemed to be forever for the Princess shuttle to the pier.
The Princess transfer was absolutely terrible. Very small bus, not enough room for all the passengers, much less the luggage. Princess needs to correct this ASAP. Get more buses!! Don't make people wait at the airport for hours!! Terrible!!
Once at the pier, embarkation was smooth as silk. We climbed onboard and our cabin, Riviera 219 was ready at about 1p.m.
Our cabin steward, Florian, was very accommodating. We gave him additional gratuity at end of cruise. Cabin is on deck 14 and very forward. Do not recommend this location because of distance to dining, but very nice nonetheless.
Re. Dining, I have cruised multiple times and still can't grasp how the galley can pull off delicious meals for 3500 passengers day in and day out. But they do it! We dined at the buffet, in restaurants. In bistros and room service. All very good.
My cousin spent hours every day in the Lotus Spa enclave and took advantage of lots of services there. She loved it and the staff therein.
Entertainment was typical but good.
We did our own thing on shore and enjoyed the ports. Nothing really special since both of us had traveled these before.
All staff friendly and helpful.
Last day was sea day and given we sailed through high seas and big winds, I was glad to see it come to end. Captain kept the passengers well informed which I very much appreciated. Read Less
New England and Canada foliage tour. Good decor and clean ship for its age. Staff attentive and efficient. Main dining room food was somewhat disappointing. Buffet areas were surprisingly better than expected. Excursions and unboarding ... Read More
New England and Canada foliage tour. Good decor and clean ship for its age. Staff attentive and efficient. Main dining room food was somewhat disappointing. Buffet areas were surprisingly better than expected. Excursions and unboarding unorganized at times. Floor shows not top notch. Overall a good experience, staff did not seem overly happy and did not speak English well. Land excursions were very good, tour guides exceptional. Timing of most was good and returns to ship afforded some rest before dinner. We had a group of 12 and most were very pleased overall. Entertainment was not tailored to the passenger ages and missed the mark, except for the “Elvis guy” which was pretty good. Lot of extra cost on beverages and dining choices. Good ship, needing some updates, but pleasant decor. Bar areas very good, just pricy. Attentive staff in main dining room and quick service each meal. Service desk very good and helpful. Read Less
Our travel agent raved about Windstar, told our group how excellent they were. She is now our ex travel agent. This experience was'nt even close to what she told us.
Most everything was poor, I don't know where to start, but here is my ... Read More
Our travel agent raved about Windstar, told our group how excellent they were. She is now our ex travel agent. This experience was'nt even close to what she told us.
Most everything was poor, I don't know where to start, but here is my review.
Starting with the positive, the ship was clean, the room was of good size. That's the positive. NOW, for the negative, being genereous the food was hit and miss, mostly a miss. The service in the dining room was slow. The coffee bar had stale cupcakes, they were stored in the frig and displayed the next day, and the next day, etc. We were suppose to have fresh fruit in our suite, had it for a few days, then it stopped. I asked reception why I had no fruit as advertised, they told me that I had to request it, which I did. After a few days they ran out of bananas and plums. They also ran out of the kleenex that fits under the bathroom sink. Also the coffee bar ran out of oatmeal cookies. It looks like Windstar has cut alot of corners all over the ship and it shows. The staff looks overworked. The excursions were overpriced and hit and miss. One was so bad, Windstar gave us a full refund, when many guests complained. There were many unhappy people on this cruise. As far as entertainment goes I did not expect much, but got much less. Non existant, with two terrible hookey acts. No lecturers as promised, we basically got nothing. We had a Captian's party, one drink, one appitizer. This cruise was comparable to a Carnival cruise, if not worse. One guest who was on his third cruise with Windstar, was so disgusted, he said, he would never cruise with Windstar again, nor would I. There were many more negative things, but I don't even want to discuss then. All I can say is don't pay luxury fares for a low end cruise.
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This comprehensive review is for the Regal Princess, specifically for a round trip voyage from Brooklyn, New York to New England and Canada during the period September 29 – October 6, 2018. Overall this itinerary is an excellent ... Read More
This comprehensive review is for the Regal Princess, specifically for a round trip voyage from Brooklyn, New York to New England and Canada during the period September 29 – October 6, 2018. Overall this itinerary is an excellent opportunity to visit multiple ports in the northeast, despite the high probability of inclement weather in the Maritime Provinces this time of year. As for the Regal Princess, it is a tale of two ships. Where it was good – it was excellent. Where it was not good – it was poor.
I am 60 and my wife is in her 50s. As experienced cruisers, this year’s vacation was based totally on the destination, as we wanted to take a New England cruise in the fall. We selected Princess because it left from a local port and included 5 ports-of-call in 7 nights. We wanted to try both the Brooklyn terminal as well as Princess to see how they compare against our favorite cruise line, Norwegian, and our preferred embarkation port, Bayonne.
The drive to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook from anywhere in New Jersey is neither quick nor easy as compared to the Bayonne Terminal. Heavy traffic is the norm from the Outer Bridge Crossing, over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and up the west side of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Additionally, the narrow streets and congestion in Brooklyn can be a challenge to many drivers. I recommend leaving yourself extra time. As an example, estimate the drive time from the Flemington area of west-central NJ to the terminal to be about 2 hours, give or take based on traffic conditions.
The Brooklyn Terminal is a destination – period. It is a dockyard. It is not in an area where one can stroll around to see the sights or pass time before departing. There is an open-air, pay-parking lot in a fenced in lot right on the pier. The cost is $23 the first night, $20 each additional. Given the traffic conditions to drive oneself, however, it is probably better to use a car service, taxi, or family member if available as alternative options to get dropped off. This was what we did.
A word about arrival time: Princess tries to space out the loading of over 3,500 passengers by recommending an arrival time based on your deck. This information is on your boarding ticket. Our recommended arrival time was 3 PM. Of course, arriving at 3 PM for a cruise that leaves at 5 PM is insane. It leaves very little cushion if you are stuck in a traffic jam behind an accident, and curtails your options for lunch as shipboard venues close early in anticipation of the mandatory muster drill. We timed our arrival for noon and had no delays.
The embarkation process for Princess at the Brooklyn Terminal consisted of 7 separate steps, or stations. These were as follows:
1) Drop off luggage curbside and proceed into the terminal.
2) Pass through TSA screening where they will check your passport and boarding ticket. This was the only line we experienced.
3) Go through the TSA security checkpoint (i.e., metal detector).
4) Go up to the counter to check-in. There they will collect your eBoarding ticket and issue you your cabin keycard. This step was exceedingly quick (probably 2 minutes) as they already have your credit card on file from your on-line check-in, and do not take your security photo at the counter. There was no line for us.
5) Fill out and present the Canadian customs form you are given, attesting to the fact that you are not bringing any fruit or illegal substances into Canada. If boarding has not yet begun you may need to sit and wait in this room, but for us once again there was no waiting. It was a matter of simply handing in our form and walking through the door into the next room.
6) Stop to have your embarkation photo taken. Smile.
7) Go up the escalator, across the gangway, and onto the ship. There you will be greeted by a crew member who will scan your cabin keycard and take your picture with their handheld device. This is your security photo for the duration of your voyage. It is an extremely fast and efficient system, much more so that having a bottleneck behind a single card reader. At that point you are now on vacation. Head for the buffet.
TIP: I like to share this simple hack with fellow passengers. The paper luggage tags that cruise lines provide can easily be ripped off during baggage handling in airports and from the curb to your cabin. To mitigate the chance of this happening, after folding your tags but before attaching them to your luggage, reinforce the tags with clear packing tape. Then, after stapling the tags around the handle on your luggage, put an extra piece of tape around the tag and over the staples. This will make the tags semi-indestructible.
We arrived at the Terminal at noon, straight up and breezed through all 7 of the embarkation steps without any delay or waiting. We were onboard the ship and heading for the buffet in less than 30 minutes.
Now, I have read reviews that said that there are restaurants onboard open for lunch on embarkation day. I asked 3 separate crew members to direct us to one of these, and each one told us to go up to deck 16, to the buffet in the Horizon Court/Bistro. So I do not know whether or not there truly were no restaurants open. But the buffet had plenty of open tables, no crowds, and the food selection was ample.
Cabins became available at ~1:30, though there was no announcement to this effect. We simply left the Horizon Court and headed to our cabin on Deck 12. Our luggage arrived shortly thereafter and was put in our stateroom by our cabin steward – Dennis. All in all, this was a seamless and effortless process.
The call to the muster drill is via a recorded PA message sung to the tune of the Love Boat. Yeah, I know, kitschy but cute. (The use of the Love Boat theme on board does start to wear thin, though, after about the 3rd or 4th time you hear it.)
Embarkation from Brooklyn was at 5 PM, though from monitoring the ship online on other voyages this time may vary by up to 30 minutes to an hour later. Princess does not appear to be prompt when it comes to departing. Since the ship leaves from Red Hook, it is a much shorter passage out of New York harbor than if you were leaving from Manhattan. If you want to see any of the sites, such as the Manhattan skyline or the Statue of Liberty, be sure to be on deck when the lines are cast off. If you are in your cabin thinking you will have time to go topside, you probably will not.
TIP: If you want a memorable video, start recording as you approach the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Passing under its main span is a cruise ship ritual of which you never tire. And do not be surprised if the Captain sounds the ship’s horn – which also plays the theme from the Love Boat.
For this cruise, we booked an inside cabin (Aloha Deck, Deck 12, Room 418). We did not feel the need for the added expense of a balcony stateroom on a cruise with only 1 sea day, and where most of the time during the day we would not be spent on the ship anyway. Room A418 is excellently located amidships, so if you are sensitive to motion you will feel very little here. It is also one of the uniquely designed interior cabins on the Regal Princess in which you enter directly into the sleeping area. You need to go around a corner in the room to enter the closet area and the bathroom. This break in the vision lines gives the cabin the feel of being a tiny suite.
Cabin A418 was in immaculate condition. There is more than sufficient storage for 2 people. There are two closets (open front, no door), each with a shelf above the clothing bar. On the wall opposite this is a storage unit with two shelves and space underneath, sufficiently large to hold your carry-on luggage. Alternately, there is storage space for your luggage underneath the bed. Adjacent to these shelves is a closet with 5 shelves and the largest cabin safe I have experienced on any cruise ship yet. Seriously – the room safe has a removable shelf in it, and is large enough to hold a full size SLR camera, video camera, cell phones, wallet, purse, jewelry and other assorted valuables with room to spare. I estimate the approximate inside dimensions of the safe to be about 10 inches high x 11 inches deep x 13 inches wide.
The sleeping area contains an additional 6 drawers and several shelves, plus the desk top itself. The room also contains a mini refrigerator, an oversize flat screen TV, full length mirror, one desk chair, and a portable hair dryer (look in the drawer beneath the TV for this, as that is where it is wired and kept). TV channels are limited, but reception was excellent.
The extra space in the cabin area comes at the expense of the bathroom. Without doubt, the bathroom in this cabin is the smallest I have ever seen. If you sit on the commode, you can reach your arms out and touch all 4 walls (that includes the rear wall of the shower, on your left). And if you have the bathroom door open, you can stretch your legs through the threshold. Yeah – that small. But for 2 people, for a week, it is functional. Amenities include a bar of soap on the vanity and liquid body soap and a shampoo/conditioner in the shower. A complimentary tote bag is provided, which comes in handy with all of the shopping in port.
Two additional notes about this cabin. First – the bed is extra firm. This takes a lot of getting used to, especially if you are not accustomed to such a mattress. Second – to conserve energy, you must insert either your keycard, or similar card, into a slot on the wall near the door and keep it there in order to activate the lights. If you remove your card from the slot, the lights are on a timer and will go out in approximately 1 minute. Do not, I repeat, do not do this while your spouse is in the shower.
There are no robes provided in this cabin, and no towel animals at night to provide a touch of whimsy. But this cabin is more than adequate as an inner retreat while on board.
TIP: As there is no built in nightlight anywhere in the room, and as the absence of any windows makes it pitch black with the lights off, I recommend bringing a small, LED nightlight with you. There are 2 outlets along the desktop that can accommodate one.
THE SHIP AND CREW:
There is no mistaking the fact that the Regal Princess is, well, regal. From the moment you walk aboard you get a sense of opulence. The ship’s public areas were kept spotless. I did not notice any rusted metal, broken fixtures, non-functioning monitors, tears in fabric cushions or bare spots in the carpeting. I give Princess high marks for overall cleanliness.
Likewise, the crew of the Regal Princess was friendly and helpful. Our steward, Dennis, was like a ghost; he would slip in and out of our cabin unseen, keeping it impeccably clean with a fresh supply of towels several times during the day. Special kudos must also go to our waiter, Daniel from Brazil. He was a rock star. But more on him later.
If I was to find any fault with the crew of the Regal Princess it was that officers were nowhere to be found, at least on our cruise. In fact, the only time we saw the Captain was when he was in the Piazza pouring bottle after bottle into a champagne waterfall. This absence of senior crew members was a little disappointing, especially when comparing this cruise to our last one on Celebrity with the incomparable Captain Kate.
With all of this positive commentary said, I do caution that the Regal Princess is probably not the best ship for families with young children. There are no water slides. There is no miniature golf. There is no splash zone. There is no large arcade. Now, while none of this detracted from the experience for us, it could be a negative factor in considering your cruise if you are travelling with active pre-teens. So just a word of caution when choosing your vacation: do your homework before booking.
There is a basketball court that was set up for tennis whenever we passed by. There is also one shuffle board area, one ping pong table, a putting green (that doubles as a bocce court), and a golf driving net. It is easy to tell that these activities are geared more towards an older, adult clientele. This was supported by the fact that on our cruise we were definitely on the younger end of the spectrum. Most of our fellow passengers were probably retirees, well into their 60s and 70s.
This age demographic, coupled with the wet weather we experienced on all but a few days, probably also explains why the ship never felt crowded. The main deck was always empty. I suspect many of the guests either retired early or spent time on their own balconies. (Balcony cabins account for 81% of the cabins on this ship.) Even at night for movies under the stars the deck was empty. As a side note, if you are interested in this activity please note that blankets and bags of popcorn are provided.
Despite all of the grandeur and cleanliness, the polished brass and the crystal, there are several deep flaws in the design in the Regal Princess. These are just my opinion, and obviously are structural elements that are not going to change. But I mention them here in the spirit of full disclosure.
First, there is no view forward. Generally a cruise ship has some public access to an observation area on the top deck where passengers can see the bow and the sea ahead. Not on the Regal Princess. The entire forward section is portioned off into The Sanctuary, a fee-based area. I found this to be extremely disappointing.
Second, and perhaps even more frustrating, the Promenade Deck is without doubt the worst I have seen on any cruise ship I have been on. It does not wrap around the stern. Access forward is blocked by a “crew only” restriction. And it is so narrow that two people cannot stroll abreast on it. Other than a tiny section aft with a few chairs, and another tiny section amidships (under the SeaWalk), it is a coldly utilitarian section of the vessel.
The SeaWalk bares mentioning as it a unique feature of this ship. This is a 2-level walkway that juts out about 10 yards from the side of the ship on Decks 16 and 17. There is one on either side of the ship, and both contain glass panels in the floor. It is definitely a major photo-spot.
TIP: Unless you do not mind having other guests on board looking into your cabin or facing you as you sit on your balcony, I would recommend caution when booking a cabin on any of the decks immediately below the SeaWalk. This walkway looks directly into those rooms.
Since this cruise made 5 ports of call in 6 days, there was only one sea day. For this reason I cannot comment on what type of shipboard activities were scheduled on a daily basis, but suspect that they included the usual enrichment programs and typical art auctions. We did not notice any unusual hard sell, or upselling, of packages or services – but again, we were probably off the ship as much as we were on it.
The one event we did attend, on the final day, was a cooking presentation in the main theatre hosted by the head chef and the maître-de. This was immediately followed by a tour of one of the galleys. This presentation is worth seeing, if for no other reason that the comedic interaction between the two men.
It should be noted that the Regal Princess is not a party ship. At night there were no loud night clubs or deck parties. Most of the music we heard was in the Piazza. This was an exceptionally quiet ship at night where the decks were rolled up by midnight. Much of this is again directly related to the fact that the average passenger appears to be a senior citizen.
This was one of those areas where, in our opinion, the Regal Princess was not good. And by that I mean it was poor. The ship’s production cast of singers and dancers were undoubtedly talented, as were the orchestra and guest performers. This review is not about their ability. Rather, it is a reflection of what Princess considers to be entertainment. When I am on a cruise I want the entertainment to be FUN: light, high energy, entertaining, exciting. I want to leave the theater at the end of a performance with my feet still tapping and a song stuck in my head. I am not interested in a homage to the dancers from musical theatre. I am not interested in ballads from Les Miserables. I am not interested in Opera. Yet that sort of high-brow music was practically all that was offered.
The first night was a promising mix of song and dance, but only last 30 minutes. The second night was “Born to Dance”, a tribute to Broadway musicals. It was … meh. The production crew provided two additional performances, which got progressively less interesting. One of these productions, entitled Fiera, was a hot mess; possibly the worst presentation I have ever seen on any cruise in the last 10 years. It was so bad that at the end even the cruise director came on stage and jokingly asked the audience if anyone understood it. Wow.
A guest tenor, Andrew John Diessner, performed two nights. Although he had a good voice, his song selection was blatantly boring. Listen – if you like this type of entertainment, and obviously many people did, then go and enjoy. But if you have a better offer anywhere else on the ship, take it! In my opinion you are not missing anything in the main theatre.
The only bright spot in 7 nights was comedian Fred Klett. We had seen him previously on a Celebrity cruise the year before, and his routine has not changed, but he was still exceptionally funny with his clean brand of observation humor about such topics as the evolution of marriage. I definitely recommend seeing his show if you get the chance.
Aside from the ports of call and glorious ocean vistas, the best thing about any cruise is the food. The Regal Princess scores high marks in general in this category.
We chose to have all of our breakfasts in the buffet, named Horizon Court on one side and Horizon Bistro on the other. This allowed us to get off the ship early each day. The variety of food did not change for breakfast, but offered all of the staples. The bonus was that smoked mackerel was offered each day, but the disappointment was that there was no salmon eggs-benedict, a personal cruising favorite of mine.
We also chose the Horizon Court buffet for several of our lunches. Since there were 5 port days, I suspect that the variety of food offered was kept to a minimum, as the final day (the lone sea day) had a much greater selection, including a seafood-and-shellfish buffet that featured shrimp, mussels, oysters and crawfish.
Alfredo’s, on Deck 6, was a viable alternative to the Horizon Court. This is a complimentary restaurant that serves antipasto, thin crust pizza made to order, and tiramisu dessert. Note - this is NOT NY/NJ style pizza, but for a ship the 4-slice pie is good and is definitely worth a try.
Finally, the Trident Grill on the pool deck offers a selection of meats on a bun, including hamburgers, jumbo hot dogs, chicken, bratwursts and knockwursts. The burgers are thick and juicy, and the franks truly are jumbo. Served with an order of fries, this is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat.
We selected the Anytime Dining option for our dinners, as seating in the Symphony Dining Room begins at 5 PM, whereas traditional dining has three seatings: 5:30 and 7:45 in Allegro, and 5:15 in Concerto followed by Anytime 7:30 to 9:30. On the first night we were offered a window seat at a table for 2 in Daniel’s section. The service he provided was so exceptional that for the remainder of the cruise – with the exception of one night when we ate a specialty restaurant – we returned at 5 PM in order to assure that we would get this same table and have Dan as our waiter.
By and large all of the meals were prepared perfectly, with ample portions. As a sample of the meals, the prime rib the first night was a generous cut; it was extremely tender. The filet mignon, however, was a little tough. The cold soups, such as the piña colada soup, were served in glasses with a straw – which was unusual, to say the least.
The chocolate desserts are where the Regal Princess really shines, especially on the formal nights. Regarding these nights, there are two – the 2nd and 5th nights. Lobster was served on the 2nd formal night. It seems that many of the guests followed the dress code for these nights as there was no shortage of suits and gowns. Personally, I do not like playing dress up for dinner. When I am on vacation I do not want to be burdened with having to bring along business clothing or tie a little noose around my neck, which is one of the reasons Norwegian and their freestyle cruising is my preferred cruise line. But for those of you who like it, you will not be disappointed.
Our cruise package included one specialty restaurant as a complimentary perk. The options include Sabatini’s (an Italian restaurant), The Crab Shack (an area of Horizon Court sectioned off at night) and the Crown Grill (a steak house). We chose the Crown Grill. The food was very good, though not significantly different from the main dining room. Perhaps the steaks truly are better here, but we would not know. Although the selection of steaks looked quite appetizing we each opted for the lobster tail.
As an aside, I do not grasp the need to pay an additional $60 for a specialty restaurant when I can get a wider selection, often just as good, already included in my fare. Yet this trend is definitely main stream on all of the cruise lines as an additional source of income.
LATE NIGHT SNACKS:
It was nice to see that the Horizon Court remained open late, with an assortment of desserts and cookies. Pizza could also be obtained until 11 PM either by the whole pie in Alfredo’s, or by the slice poolside.
PORTS OF CALL:
If one is interested in following the ship prior to your own cruise, the webcam on the bridge can be accessed at this URL: http://www.cruisin.me/cruise-ship-webcams/princess-cruises/regal-princess.php
This page also provides a map for tracking the ship’s location.
As noted previously, our itinerary consisted of 5 ports of call as noted below:
This is a charming seaside town, filled with shops, restaurants, and mansions. From dockside it is about a mile walk to the head of the Cliff Walk, which starts at Narragansett Beach. The Cliff Walk itself is 3.5 miles long, with the first paved section ending after about 1.25 miles. It is a beautiful stroll, filled with both tourists and locals out walking their dogs.
We opted to see Newport on foot, probably walking a total of 7 to 8 miles. It is worth it, however, if you are in shape and have the stamina for it.
This port requires tendering. The trip from the ship to the dock is controlled by tender tickets for the first few hours. The duration is about 30 minutes, including waiting time to board. On the return trip, the line for the tender can get quite long. We got on the end of the line that wrapped around the block at 2:35 and waited fully 40 minutes until we boarded a tender. Those who got on line after us had a longer wait. Factor this in your plans for when you plan to leave.
Also, please note that the ship leaves at 5 PM and the announcement made is that the last tender from shore leaves at 4 PM. Although this may be the goal, we could see from the ship that the last tenders came back full at 4:45 PM. I am guessing that as long as there is still a line of passengers waiting, they are not going to abandon you. But then again….
These two URLs are useful in viewing areas in Newport:
Full disclosure – I went to Boston University for a summer semester; I lived in Boston for several months while on a business project; I know Boston. For many reasons, going back many years, I do not like Boston. It is my least favorite city to visit. Therefore, I cannot give an objective review of this port.
What I can say is that arriving in the harbor by cruise ship definitely is interesting, as flights from Logan Airport take off of land almost directly over the ship as it approaches the Black Falcon Terminal. Getting to downtown from the cruise terminal is not easy on foot because of street construction, traffic, and the area you are walking in, so taking either a van or taxi is recommended. The taxi fare is $15.
If you are not on a shore excursion, you probably want to start your own exploration of the city at Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall to walk around and sight see from there. Realize, however, that this is a major city, rife with all of the problems of any major urban center. Be aware of your surroundings.
Bar Harbor, ME:
This is another quaint, maritime town. This port does require tendering, but the trip from the ship to the dock is only about 10 minutes or less. Main Street starts at the dock where the tenders unload. It is lined with shops, many selling handmade products from local Maine craftsmen. If you are looking for a treat to bring back home for your dog, I highly recommend checking out Bark Harbor for their locally baked blueberry dog biscuits.
There are also numerous restaurants all of which serve the local delicacy – lobster rolls. The Down East Deli supposedly has one of the best prices in town, but it is take-out only. And since it was raining the day we were in port, we opted for an establishment where we could sit inside. We went to the Thirsty Whale, one block off Main Street on Cottage Street. Its lobster roll received high marks on-line, and for good reason. It was reasonably priced at about $14 (with fries). Be sure to wash it down with an Old Soaker Blueberry soda, another local favorite. (If you have not figured it out yet, lobsters and blueberries are the main game in this town in Bar Harbor.)
We took a shore excursion in this port, to the top of Cadillac Mt and through Acadia National Park, as my wife had never been to Maine before. Unfortunately, the bus ride is not the best way to appreciate the park, or the scenery, especially in overcast weather. Personally, I would not recommend this tour as there is only one stop in which you can get out – for all of about 20 minutes, right in front of the Acadia gift shop.
On a nice day, the Shore Path that starts right at the dock provides a relaxing ½ mile walk along the harbor. It is quite beautiful. Although this was the wettest day of our cruise, with full out rain, we highly recommend this port of call. It is definitely a place to which we want to return on a better day.
The following URL provides a number of webcams of the harbor and around town, include time lapse videos from the previous day of the cruise ships arriving and departing: https://barharborcam.com/
St. John, Canada:
If you have never been to St John, you can walk around town and see everything there is to see in a few hours. This includes City Market, the local place for produce and crafts, as well as the Loyalist Cemetery. As this was our 4th time here, we simply walked around to try to find the 10 fiberglass salmon that were part of the Salmon Run 2018. More information on that art production can be found here: https://www.discoversaintjohn.com/swimming-upstream-salmon-run-2018
There is shopping on the pier in St John, under the tent, but most of the items for sale are trinkets, shirts, and candy. You would be better off waiting until Halifax to shop.
A webcam of the pier can be found here: http://www.cruisin.me/cruise-port-webcams/canada/saint-john-new-brunswick.php
It has been 10 years since we went to Halifax. It is a large city with a small town feel. The Harbour Walk is a definite, must-do to see the waterfront. Points of interest while walking include the Nova Scotian Crystal store to watch the craftsmen glass blowing and cutting fine crystal. Another stop, several blocks uphill into the heart of town, is the Public Gardens.
Shopping at Pier 21, where the ship docks, provides a great sampling of the other stores you will find in the area. These vendors are more upscale than what you will find in St. John. For pet lovers, I recommend “Towels, Totes and More”. There is also a cut-glass shop here (an outlet of NovaScotian Crystal) and a Tea Shop.
Getting off of the Regal Princess in Brooklyn was, without question, the fastest disembarkation we have ever experienced. I attribute this, in part, to the advanced age of so many of the passengers as almost no one else was doing the self-assist walk off.
After one final breakfast in the Horizon Court, we collected our luggage in our cabin and headed towards the elevators at 7:35. There was no announcement that the ship had cleared customs. There were no lines. We simply went down to Deck 7 and walked to the gangway, got the final security scan of our room cards, and walked off. From there it was down the gangway, down the elevator, through the terminal, right up to a customs agent, out of the building, and down the sidewalk to the pickup area. We were sitting on a bench, waiting for our son to come for us, by 7:45. That is not an exaggeration. There was not a single person in front of us, and customs did not even require a customs form. We were asked if we took any fruit or liquor off the ship, we said no, and we were done.
Just try doing that in Manhattan.
TIP: Although we did not need to do this, this time, another simple hack for disembarkation day is to grab an elevator that is going UP rather than one that is going DOWN. The up elevators are usually empty, so just ride it up and stay on it as it fills up and comes back down.
OVERALL CONCLUSION: We had a great time on our cruise, primarily because of the ports of call. The food was excellent, the ship was kept immaculately clean and the crew was very much customer focused. There was no noticeable push to try to constantly upsell passengers on any packages. But then, we only had 1 sea day in 7 nights.
The downside to the Regal Princess, in my opinion, was poor entertainment in the main theatre and extremely poor ship design. There simply was no sense of connection with the ocean.
I definitely would not recommend this ship to a family with young children. Nor would I recommend it to a young couple who is looking for an active night life. I certainly would not want to be on this ship for several sea days. But for the retiree crowd, who likes to dress up for dinner, sit around listening to music, or stay in their cabins sitting out on the balcony, it probably is OK.
Thank you. Read Less
Considering the cruise options we have these days - Holland America's boat was old and looked like it. We traveled with a group of 26... they separated our group and we could not even sit near each other during out dining time. We paid ... Read More
Considering the cruise options we have these days - Holland America's boat was old and looked like it. We traveled with a group of 26... they separated our group and we could not even sit near each other during out dining time. We paid for an on board wine tasting while at sea, but it turned out to be a big sales pitch for the wine packages! You don't even get soda complimentary.... They nickel and dime you throughout the cruise! The worst part - The carpet in our cabin was wet and spreading upon arrival. When we complained to our steward, the staff simply placed towels on top of the wet carpet daily - HELLO MOLD! I guess this was their way of fixing it. Window were small, rusty and dirty. Upon arrival our air conditioner didn't work, but they got it going after complaining. At the Captain's dinner - he said a few words then left - really???? At most cruises the Captain says a few words then greets guests or at least say hello when entering. Seriously, with all the choices we have now - I wouldn't do this boat ever again! As for the entertainment, it was pretty lame. They did have one acrobatic group who performed one evening and they were great! But the other act were very amateur! The excursions we paid for were pretty good, however 2 out of 4 started late, which made us hurry to return to the ship on time. Why? Some passengers were late for their excursions....so we had to sit and wait for them - one time over an hour! No excuse to make a coach full of guests wait for 2 people. Read Less
Although we had visited all the cities in the US and love them, we had not visited the Canadian ports. We thought the timing would be great to catch cooler temperatures and fall sceneery. Although the leaves were really not changing ... Read More
Although we had visited all the cities in the US and love them, we had not visited the Canadian ports. We thought the timing would be great to catch cooler temperatures and fall sceneery. Although the leaves were really not changing until we got to Bar Harbor, it was stll wonderful. I liked that the the stops gave plenty of time to enjoy and do different activities.
The Regal is by far the prettiest Princess cruiseship I've been on.
I loved the dining venues (except I wished they had not changed the menu at Sabatini's, like the old one a lot better) were great! The quality and quantity of food was great as well as the choices. The Crown Grill is definitely a favorite but were peasantly surprised with the new Alfredo's restaurant which does not have a surcharge. We meant to visit the seafood sushi venue (not the Crab Shack, we've done that one many times before) but did not have enough time.
The entertainment was as usual, very good. I specially like the band in the atrium every night that you could dance to or just people watch. Read Less
Embarkation was easily the best experience ever (note-this was our 27th cruise). We arrived at the terminal at noon; earlier than our assigned 2:00 slot. Checked in by 12:20 and were on the ship 12:30, incredibly smooth. Debarkation was ... Read More
Embarkation was easily the best experience ever (note-this was our 27th cruise). We arrived at the terminal at noon; earlier than our assigned 2:00 slot. Checked in by 12:20 and were on the ship 12:30, incredibly smooth. Debarkation was also the best ever, self arrangements waited in casino. Amazing really put the other lines to shame. Easily an order of magnitude better.
A couple of notes on the internet. We had pre-purchased unlimited internet for $59. Since it was to early to go to the room we relaxed at the Bellini Bar and I tried to log in; Bad move, I was presented with a screen asking for birthday, etc. and go nowhere. What I should have done is waited to go to the room and retrieved a card with my validation code and instructions. When I then went to the login screen I now knew not to enter my birthday; rather to scroll down to the bottom of the screen and enter my validation code. With my iPhone in airplane mode I never had to log out/in; and connectivity was great. The internet cafe was located on deck 5 staffed with very helpful folks. I downloaded the Concierge app and found it very helpful throughout the cruise. The other "medallion apps" did not work so I deleted them. Overall the internet on the Regal Princess was ubiquitous and faster than I had on recent NCL & RC trips.
We had a mini-suite on deck 10; c243. The room was great and we felt it was larger than similar cabins on NCL's Escape and RC's Anthem (similar vintage ships). Our room steward Alfred did a great job and was always friendly and helpful. I do wish Princess would bring back towel animals though; they were missed.
Ship - The ship was great, interiors were a wonderfully executed blend of: rich woods, lights, polished metal, and crystals. Our captain was Tim Stringer; our cruise director Dan Falconer. Dan did a great job and we especially liked is morning TV show which included a very interesting segment with the captain explaining sea / port facts, conditions, etc. We were served our first Bellini by Sebastion and over the course of the week it seemed like he was serving everywhere, in the casino, etc.
We did not purchase the unlimited drinks card; with so much tim in the 5 ports it just didn't work for us. We did however find the coffee card a good value. I covered 15 specialty drinks and unlimited brewed coffee. The cafe on deck 5 became one of our favorite spots.
Newcastle Brown Ale was available on top in the Wheelhouse bar and on the pool deck in the bar by the pizza venue.
I typically enjoy production shows in the theater; my wife not so much. Princess really hit the mark by producing top notch shows; 45 min long.
We ate in the dining rooms three times; I highly recommend the Chocolate Journeys deserts.
Newport took a Princess tour - The Breakers and Marble house. Enjoyed it, our your guide was very informative, we were back at the dock 12:30. We were looking for a waterfront restaurant and chose "The Point" at the Ann Street Pier. I had the lobster dinner, my wife the salmon; both were excellent. Shopped a bit then tendered back to the ship; a long line but it moved pretty fast.
Boston took a Princess tour -Boston Trolley with optional hop on/off (2hrs). A great tour with one of the best driver / narrators we've had. Very informative and lots of local color. The tour covered the major hot spots in Boston and briefly visited Cambridge ac cross the river. The only hop off spot was at the end of the tour at Faneuil Hall, or you could continue back to the ship. We hopped off and had lunch at the Green Dragon (reputed to be a meeting place for the Sons of Liberty). Shopped in Faneuil Hall / Quincy Market then took the complementary (from the Trolley company) shuttle back to the ship.
Bar Harbor took a Princess tour - Acadia National Park Express, Small Group Tour (2.5 hr). Good choice, really great driver / tour guide. Hit all the major high points: Long road loop, Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole. The tour guide gave great local background and historical info. Back at Bar Hrbor has lunch at Stewan's Lobster Pond for an excellent waterfront lobster dinner. Then browsed the shopping district and stopped in Paddy's Irish Pub and restaurant for a beer on the way back to the tender. The Pub was great and the restaurant looked like a good place of a meal.
Saint John took a Princess tour - ST John highlightd, Bay of Fundy and light lunch (6.5 hr). Turned out to be a good choice. It covered the tops in town then headed out to St Martens (about 40 min). Had wonderful tour guide / driver (Bernadette / Eddie). The caves in St Martens was a highlight stop.
Halifax - focused on the town itself so we did our own thing. Go off the ship early and grabbed a cab up to the Citadel arriving at 9:40. Turned out to be great timing since we saw the changing of the job ceremony (10:00) and a walking tour of the fort (10:10). The walking tour was very informative including firing a rifle and field canon. After the noon canon firing we walked down the hill to look for a waterfront dining option; deciding on Murphy's was a good choice. Enjoyed a 2 lb lobster dinner. Headed back to the ship walking the boardwalk and did some shopping. Was sorry to hear that the HCMS Sackville, a WWI corvette, I'd wanted to see had been moved for refit weeks earlier. As kid I loved the old Randolph Scott movie Corvette K-225. We enjoyed walking back to the ship along the boardwalk and were early enough to stop at Garrison Brewery (across from the terminal) to sample a flight of their products. Did a bit more shopping in the terminal building (wish all terminals had such a variety of stores). Had a great day.
The cruise was a winner: great ship and crew mild weather, interesting ports. We' highly recommend the itinerary. Read Less
Second time on Regal. Beautiful and spacious ship. Very friendly and accommodating staff. Suite was the best we have been in spacious and well laid out. Alfredo's was the best food on the ship. The food is made to order so it's fresh and ... Read More
Second time on Regal. Beautiful and spacious ship. Very friendly and accommodating staff. Suite was the best we have been in spacious and well laid out. Alfredo's was the best food on the ship. The food is made to order so it's fresh and hot when it reaches your table. Don't go to the buffet much but did find out too late there was a seafood bar at lunchtime on the last sale day. Club Class dining was disappointing with their offerings and the service. International Cafe is another nice option for choices and lite fare. Sabitini's is great for breakfast and dinner (service fee may apply depending on your cabin). Try the dessert sampler if you go for dinner. This itinerary is quite busy with only 1 day at sea at the end. However minimal children were on board due to the season. Allow plenty of time to get to the cruise port in Brooklyn as traffic can be congested. Read Less
We choose this area as we thought a great time to see the changing leaves. Only a few seen! Our travel agent recommended this ship. The ports were great and we were exhausted at the end of the day!!
Getting on and off went smoothly a ... Read More
We choose this area as we thought a great time to see the changing leaves. Only a few seen! Our travel agent recommended this ship. The ports were great and we were exhausted at the end of the day!!
Getting on and off went smoothly a little more congested on last day but not a huge problem.
The ship is huge!! I thought 4100 passengers we had to be nuts going on this cruise, but there were very few long lines, the buffet went smoothly the food is delicious, the dining room was wonderful, the pizza at Sorentos was so so. We have Chicago thin crust and the best we think!! The boat is clean and the staff are great. A few we had a hard time understanding with the language not a big deal though.
The pools are great! 2 inside, 1 outside. One of the inside is adult only!
We did two excursions from Royal Caribean, the lobster boat in Bar Harbour...very interesting and very cold and windy, would we do again? Definetly! And we did the St. Martin Bay of Fundy. Went to the reversing falls and into St. Martin. Very long day. If we did this again, we would do the Bay of Fundy Express. The town of St. John has alot to do if you want to go on your own They have a trolley tour which we should of thought about.
Each evening they have entertainment in each of the bar areas and theater, very good. Couple of shows, great singing and dancing, story line was strange.Karoche, trivia, piano bar all excellent!! Read Less