Cruise Ship Tour: The New Regal Princess

Regal Princess, christened last month by the original “Love Boat” crew, bears Princess Cruises’ new logo marking its 50th year.
Regal Princess, christened last month by the original “Love Boat” crew, bears Princess Cruises’ new logo marking its 50th year.

Princess Cruises celebrates its 50th anniversary year in 2015 and new “50” logos grace the sides of its 3,560-passenger Regal Princess, christened last month at Port Everglades, FL, by the original “Love Boat” crew: Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Lauren Tewes (Julie, cruise director) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain’s daughter).

During the anniversary year, clients will find touches of the “Love Boat” on their cruise, regardless of ship. That includes episodes from multiple seasons of the show available on the in-stateroom entertainment system, the ’70s-themed “Love Boat Disco Deck Party” being rolled out in 2015 and video message from the cast as part of “Movies Under the Stars.” The cast will be onboard the Pacific Princess’s nostalgic Mexico cruise that departs on the line’s actual 50th anniversary, December 3, 2015. Agents with clients intrigued with the line’s history might want to suggest they check out Princess’ historical timeline of memories at www.princess.com/50th-anniversary.

Travel Agent sailed on a preview cruise on the 142,229-ton Regal Princess in November. Here are our first impressions.

Grand Piazza: We loved the spacious, classy and elegant Grand Piazza, which extends across the full beam of the ship, providing a light and airy space with windows on both sides. This three-level atrium is perfect for company, conversation, refreshments or just people watching. It’s ringed by multiple lounges, so clients might have a glass of wine with friends at Vines, offer a champagne toast at Bellini’s or enjoy a cocktail or beer at Crooners with its Rat Pack decor. As part of Princess’ 50th anniversary celebration, this ship is debuting a new beer—“Seawitch” West Coast IPA.

The Grand Piazza is also a good space for getting something light to eat such as sandwiches, pastries or lattes at the International Café; a freshly baked pizza pie or calzone from Alfredo’s; sushi, sashimi or oysters at the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar; and yummy Italian ices/ice cream at Gelato—we highly recommend the dulce de leche gelato.

As with its sister ship, Royal Princess, Regal Princess’ purser’s office and shore desk were relocated to a secondary piazza nearby, a good decision as it frees up space for guests to mix and mingle. The atrium also has shops, including Celebrations, a place to buy gifts and arrange for specialty deliveries such as flowers or candy for your special someone onboard. Thanks to Princess’ new partnership with master chocolatier Norman Love, teddy bears “bearing” his chocolate treats are sold at the store, along with boxed chocolate.

What we liked best about the Grand Piazza, though, was its centrum-like entertainment equation. We enjoyed a string quartet one moment, a rock band the next, and even a brief production number staged by Regal Princess’ singers and dancers.

Accommodations: Regal Princess has 1,780 staterooms and suites, 1,438 of which are outside with balconies. Suite guests have a new dedicated concierge lounge.

Regal Princess, christened last month by the original “Love Boat” crew, bears Princess Cruises’ new logo marking its 50th year.
 
Regal Princess, christened last month by the original “Love Boat” crew, bears Princess Cruises’ new logo marking its 50th year.

Overall, we liked our Caribe Deck balcony stateroom, C617, which had pampering decor, including appealing photography art over the love seat, a small desk area with chair, mini-fridge, large flat-screen TV with movies and satellite programming, and a balcony with two chairs and a small table.

The two nightstands were a bit larger than those we’ve had on some other ships and each had two drawers. That said, there were no more full storage drawers in this cabin (except a narrow one with a hair dryer). Multiple storage shelves and a nicely sized in-room safe (big enough for an iPad and a netbook, plus other items) were found in the large open-air closet area between the living/sleeping area and the bathroom.

Overall, we were quite comfortable in this cabin. Could be improved: The beds were extremely hard, even by our standards. This cabin only had a pillowtop for a queen configuration, not for two twins. We’d like to see Princess upgrade its bedding.

Cuisine and Chocolate: Overall, we felt the quality and creativity of the cuisine was exceptional—from the dining room to the Horizon Court buffet and Horizon Bistro to the alternative Sabatini’s, which has new Italian cuisine options while sailing the Caribbean; all dishes we tasted here were exceptional. As with Royal Princess, the Regal Princess also has the “Chef’s Table Lumiere,” an elegant, more intimate dining experience within a main dining room, yet separated unto itself. Also new to both ships is the chance to have dinner in a circular wine cellar that’s an intimate space within the Symphony and Concerto main dining rooms.

As for the Horizon Court buffet, Regal Princess’ was a definite cut above what we’ve experienced on some other vessels of late. We liked the hibachi grill area, the taco station, the separate pastry area and, at night, the Mongolian BBQ with made-to-order dishes. I ordered super-hot Thai seasoning while my friend asked for “almost invisible seasoning,” giving the cooks a good chuckle. Each dish, an opposite in flavoring, was excellent.

It’s easy to be a “chocoholic” on Regal Princess, as the line has introduced a new Chocolate Journeys premium chocolate program with creations by Norman Love, plus chocolate spa treatments, a chocolate drink menu, chocolate love pops (small chocolate bites) for the captain’s cocktail reception, chocolate cooking demonstrations and a premium chocolate-and-wine tasting experience.

Each evening, the line offers one creative treat by Love as part of the dessert line-up. One night it was a chocolate hazelnut bar with citrus cream, another a heart-shaped raspberry concoction.

Service during our “shake-down” cruise was exceptionally friendly, although slow in some dining rooms and for tender service heading back to the ship from Princess Cays. This wasn’t a typical voyage, though, as many specialty groups and VIP guests were onboard with specialized arrangements. Because the crew impressed us with an attitude of “willing to assist at every turn,” we’re hopeful things are now chugging along normally after a few voyages.

Through early April 2015, the Regal Princess is sailing seven-night winter voyages from Port Everglades, FL, to the eastern Caribbean. It will then be back in Europe next summer.

Visit www.princess.com/regalprincess

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