The bulk of the performance action takes place in the Princess Theater, located on decks 6 and 7. The theater is a bit of a throwback (in a good way), in that the seating is palladium style. The theater is deep, though, and if you don't arrive early enough, you might find yourself stuck in the back, which is pretty far from the stage. Even so, there aren't any bad sightlines or obstacles. The theater doesn't have drink holders or tables, though, so if you come with a drink or order one preshow, you'll have to hold it or set it on the floor.
The entertainment is varied and excellent, with a nod toward tradition and a beat that is clearly innovative. "Bravo" might be best described as "popera", with performers singing opera classics like "Time to Say Goodbye" and "Habanera" from "Carmen." In between, you'll catch modern tunes like "Skyfall" from Adele. Combined with a subdued set and large orchestra, the effect is a strangely seamless and ultimately delightful performance.
"Born To Dance" is a high-energy production featuring scenes from "West Side Story," "Chicago" and "A Chorus Line." A low-key highlight is the male vocal group, Modern Gentleman, who are Frankie Valli's backing band, the Four Seasons, when performing on land.
In addition to the production shows, the theater hosts other acts that include comedians and instrumentalists. A fun event is The Voice of the Ocean, based on the TV show, "The Voice," complete with three 'coaches' in red chairs that spin around when they press the buzzer in support of a contestant. Passengers compete during the week to be selected for the final on the last day of the cruise, with the audience invited to vote for the winning singer using a keypad device.
During the day, action takes place throughout the ship. On port days, the options are more limited, but in general, common activities include trivia, name that tune contests, sports tournaments and seminars on health or history. Many activities happen in the various indoor lounges, such as the Vista Lounge and Club 6. Destination lectures take place in Princess Live!, where they are recorded and will appear as on-demand options later on your TV.
Throughout the day, concerts and movies are shown on the big screen poolside on the Lido Deck, and there are no repeats (often films are added to in-cabin television menus as soon as they've run on the big screen). You'll also get live music on the stage between the Fountain and Plunge pools.
The large Princess Casino is located on Deck 6 and features the usual assortment of slot machines and table games.
The bulk of the evening's entertainment takes place in and around the Piazza; you might see a string quartet or a two-person acrobatic act. Piano players abound, and you can get a variety of entertainment just by walking around the Piazza. Rock music lovers should get there early for the one-night show, "Rock Orchestra", with an excellent band playing big hits by Bon Jovi, Guns 'n' Roses, AC/DC and many more.
Princess Live! hosts games and entertainment offerings, such as a cruise ship version of the liar's game (fun, though somewhat sophomoric) and a pop star singing competition. The Vista Lounge, on Deck 7, is a true show lounge, with ample seating and a large stage. Comedians, illusionists and musicians perform there.
Movies Under the Stars are available on the Lido Deck most nights. Passengers can watch newer movies from the comfort of padded chairs. Princess really has perfected this option, offering blankets, fresh-popped popcorn, and cookies and milk. The Lido Deck also hosts fountain shows, where lights and streams of water are set to music.
While each bar around the Piazza has its own name and unique drink menu, the open space means you can look across, up or down to see what's happening in the others bars and move on to a venue that appeals to you. More passive passengers looking for some quiet chat will prefer Bellini's, Vines or the Wheelhouse Bar. Those who want an interactive, high-energy night will be right at home in Crooners or the Club 6 disco.
In general, the wine selection onboard is excellent, with prices and options for nearly every taste. We were disappointed in the beer selection, though, where the most "exotic" options are Beck's and Grolsch. We'd love to see more craft beers available.
Vines (Deck 5): Vines butts up against Sabatini's and is the perfect spot for wine-lovers. It has an impressive wine selection, and delicious Italian-influenced tapas during pre-dinner hours, are included with the purchase of wine.
Bellini's (Deck 6): Grab a seat at Bellini's, and you'll find yourself in the best spot for watching the Piazza action at night. The drinks are fun and fruity, with many options, including the traditional Bellini (prosecco with white peach puree).
Club 6 (Deck 6): At night, Club 6 is the place for those who love dancing. It's a true dance club, with cushy seating and TV screens for video.
Churchill's (Deck 6): This is the ship's cigar bar, though cigarette smokers are common there, too.
Wheelhouse Bar (Deck 7): The Wheelhouse Bar is essentially an extension of the Crown Grill, and it does most of its business during predinner cocktails. On one sea day per cruise, Regal Princess hosts a complimentary British-style pub lunch there, complete with absolutely delicious fish and chips, bangers and mash and the most decadent bread pudding. Keep an eye on your daily cruise guide to find out which days, and show up early: Lines can be long for this popular option.
Crooners (Deck 7): Crooners is the ship's martini bar; at night, entertainment there generally involves a peppy piano player and group sing-alongs. If you don't want to participate, don't sit front and center, or you might find yourself dancing with the entertainer or singing along on the mic. During the day, Crooners hosts a popular afternoon happy hour. The best seats are the two-tops that overlook the promendade deck.
Mermaid's Tail (Deck 16): This is the main Lido Deck bar, and, as with any pool deck bar, it gets fairly busy on sea days.
SeaView Bar (Deck 16): The SeaView Bar sits near a cantilevered walkway on Regal Princess' starboard (opposite the SeaWalk). It's a small bar that's more of a novelty than a place to spend much time, but the bartenders are entertaining, and if you catch them at the right time, you'll see bottle-flipping and -spinning.
Outrigger Bar (Deck 16): This is one of the most underutilized spots on the ship. With amazing views from the ship's aft, Outrigger is generally less busy than other bars onboard -- but service was the worst we've experienced in any bar at sea.
The main pool is the Fountain Pool, located on Deck 16. This is the largest of the pools onboard, which generally are on the smaller side, but that doesn't seem to be a problem -- even on sea days. With smaller pools, there's plenty of space for loungers, and the usual elbowing for space on the Lido Deck is reduced. The smaller Plunge Pool is adjacent to the Fountain Pool. Both are surrounded by shallow tiled areas that allow passengers to keep their feet wet without diving in. Two hot tubs flank the pools.
The Terrace Pool is located on Deck 17 aft. The aft pool, a favorite among fans of the line, was missing from sister ship Royal Princess. After feedback from loyal passengers, Princess decided to add it to Regal Princess. It replaces the outdoor play area that occupies the same space on Royal Princess. We love that Princess listened to its passengers and made changes, but the pool is pretty tiny -- not much bigger than a hot tub. Still, the area is beautiful, and the views are stunning. It's worth grabbing a spot back there, especially on sea days.
Located on Deck 17, the Retreat Pool is an adults-only pool space that provides a serene escape from the crowds on the Lido Deck below. Passengers can rent cabanas, but it's perfectly comfortable to hang out on the loungers, in the pool or in one of the two hot tubs. It has its own bar and is just generally a quiet space to spend some time when you need to decompress.
The bulk of Regal Princess' recreation options is located on Deck 18, in an area dubbed "Princess Sports Central." There, you'll find a game lounge, table tennis, a full basketball court (that can easily transition into a volleyball court), putting greens, a golf practice cage and laser shooting range. On Deck 19, The Lawn Court is available for putting, bocce, croquet or lawn bowling.
The Sanctuary, Princess' adults-only pay-for-access oasis, is located on Deck 17. Access to the ultra-peaceful retreat costs $20 for a half day or $40 for a full day. Passengers who chill in the Sanctuary can lounge on thick padded loungers while waiters are available to bring you a variety of light spa-inspired meals like parfaits and gazpacho; there's a $3 service charge per person, per delivery. Cabanas are available for rental ($140 per half day and $220 for a full day's use), and those who truly want to splurge can purchase either the full-day Regal Indulgence ($3,000 for up to four people) package or the half-day Princess Pleasure ($1,500 for up to four people). Both packages provide enclosed, private cabanas and unlimited alfresco spa treatments, including massages, facials and body treatments. One tip: On our cruise, loungers in the Sanctuary were fully reserved on the cruise's first day so do plan to book accordingly.
Regal Princess also boasts sun deck areas on decks 18 and 19, as well as the Horizon Terrace, a peaceful area aft on Deck 16, adjacent to Outrigger Bar, that provides a mix of sun and shade. Two hot tubs on Deck 17 overlook the main Lido Deck area and are perfect for checking out the action or watching the movie screen.
Regal Princess' Grand Piazza serves as the ship's hub, and nearly all of the services on the ship can be found near there. Passenger services and the shore excursions desk are adjacent to each other on Deck 5. This is also where the internet cafe, with a small number of computer terminals, is located. The cafe is open 24/7, but on-duty managers have limited hours, which change based on itinerary.
MedallionNet Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship, and is fast enough to stream video and make calls. Passengers can purchase one-day or whole-voyage internet packages; purchase your package on the first day of your cruise for a deep discount. For one day, one device costs $19.99 or connect four devices for $29.99. For the whole cruise (seven days in our case), the cost is $59.99 pre-pay or $69.99 after the cruise commences. Four devices for a seven-day voyage costs $129.99 pre-pay or $139.99 after it commences.
You'll find Ocean Front, the spot for all your OceanMedallion questions and accessory purchases, on Deck 6. The lines on the first day of the cruise (after the ship has departed port), tend to get long, so if you've got your heart set on a specific accessory, we recommend purchasing before you cruise and having it shipped to you at home.
A large photo gallery, where passengers can peruse the photos taken of them during the trip, is right next door on Deck 6. It's one of the old-fashioned styled photo galleries where you have to search high and low to find your own photos. The bulk of the shopping takes place on Deck 7, where passengers can buy jewelry, forgotten necessities, logo items, souvenirs, perfume and toiletries. Passengers can book future cruises or visit the Captain's Circle Desk on Deck 7. A much-too-small library, with a selection of games and books, is also located on Deck 7. Regal Princess also has an art gallery on Deck 7.
Passengers who need to do laundry can use the ship's self-service facilities; one laundry room is located on each deck from 8 through 15. The washing machine and dryer cost $3 each, and laundry detergent and fabric softener are $1.50 each from vending machines. Using the iron and ironing board is free.
The ship's wedding chapel is on Deck 14. While ostensibly for weddings, this also hosts religious services and gatherings. The ship's formal photo studio, Platinum Studio, is located on Deck 17.
Regal Princess' Lotus Spa is located on Deck 5. The large space is serene, with decor that employs natural stones and plenty of browns, creams and grays. Treatments include Swedish and deep-tissue massages, facials and Ionithermie. The spa also has "villas" designed for couples massages, an indulgent room that includes a giant tub for two, steam room and private bathroom. Those who book a couples session can spend time in the room playing cards or sharing a meal, which they can have brought to them.
The Enclave is located in the spa. This coveted space includes a therapy soaking pool, waterbeds, steam showers, steam rooms and ceramic loungers. The Enclave is small -- probably too small -- for a ship the size of Regal Princess, and the line limits the number of people who can use the Enclave to those who purchase cruise-long passes. A pass costs $30 per day or $179 for the entire voyage. Another bummer: Those who purchase spa treatments aren't entitled to use the Enclave. Demand is high for the Enclave, so if you're interested in booking, do it right away on your first day aboard.
A beauty salon is adjacent to the spa, and passengers can book the usual assortment of treatments, including cuts, styling, waxing, manicures and pedicures.
Regal Princess' fitness center is located on Deck 17. The space is long and narrow, with cardio equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, rowers and spin bikes. It also has a solid selection of weight machines, as well as a cable machine, Smith machine with plates and free weights up to 100 pounds. Even during busy times, the flow is well managed, and wait times for equipment are short. The fitness center also has a large aerobics space, used for spinning, Pilates, boot camp and TRX suspension training classes; most classes require a fee. Beware: Many of the popular classes like TRX and bootcamp require you to sign up for multiple classes, which might not all be at times that suit your schedule. There is no true space for stretching, so passengers who want to spread out should head to the aerobics room, which is often busy with classes and seminars. Another nit: The fitness center doesn't open until 7 a.m., so if you like to work out in the morning, it's tough squeezing it in on port days.
A two-lane jogging track is located on Deck 18, and the line designates one lane for walkers and the other for runners. We found passengers generally adhered to those rules. Seven laps around equal one mile. Various pieces of resistance equipment, which work using body weight, are located in clusters around the track.
The kids club spaces, located on Deck 17, are beautiful. Each of the three clubs (Pelicans for the wee ones, Shockwaves for the tweens and Remix for the teens) has ample space, and activities are geared to each group. Kids can play Skee-Ball, foosball, air hockey, video games or generally chill on comfy couches. Teens have a dedicated outdoor space, complete with large hot tub, so they can hang outdoors without running into adults.
Activities for the Pelicans (ages 3 to 7) include items like coloring or movie time, face painting, wall graffiti and memory challenges. Kids can participate in theme nights, such as Olympic night (long jump, bowling and ring tosses) or Pirate night (treasure hunt, pirate songs and make your own pirate costume).
Children must be potty trained to participate in group events without a parent present. Children under age 3 can participate in events when accompanied by an adult, and special toddler games are available.
Group baby-sitting is available from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for children aged 3 to 12. It costs $5 per child, per hour. The ship doesn't offer private in-cabin sitting. On port days, parents can leave their children in the kids club while they go ashore.
Shockwaves (ages 8 to 12) participate in activities like video and card games, Zumba, T-shirt coloring and movie watching. Theme nights for the tween set include Lucky Night (casino-inspired activities like roulette and bingo) and Science Night (build your own roller coaster or "Slime!").
In Remix, teens (ages 13 to 17) can participate in any number of games, such as trivia, Phase 10, karaoke and fact or fiction. Activities are less organized, allowing teens the option to just hang out together -- perhaps in the excellent connected outdoor space. Teens can come and go as they please.