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This was our first ever cruise, so I write this with the upfront disclaimer that we have nothing to compare it to other than non-cruise vacations. We can, however, tell you some things our research didn't uncover that we'd have liked to know in advance and other first-timers might appreciate. We chose this specific cruise because: (a) the itinerary covered all of the ports we wanted to visit; (b) it's a family-friendly cruise line; and (c) the dates suited availability around our daughter's school terms. The itinerary only includes a few hours in Stockholm so we visited there for two days at the start of our holiday. We also went to Legoland, and had three days in Copenhagen prior to embarkation and one more after. We stayed at the affiliated Scandic Copenhagen (great location) so that we could do Princess transfers to and from the ship, which worked very well because we boarded an hour before other passengers and had a chance to explore before it got crazy. Everything about the transfer, embarkation and disembarkation processes - including luggage - seemed to go very smoothly. The Regal Princess is enormous, with a lot of little bars and seating areas tucked away all over the place. In eleven nights we still probably didn't find everything and certainly didn't try everything. Signage around the ship was handy and easy to reference. We had dinner at the Crown Grill one night and Alfredo's another, and both were good. The rest we split between the variety and happy chaos of the Horizon Court buffet, and anytime dining at the main dining rooms where we never waited more than a few minutes for a table even on the formal nights. Getting drinks was our biggest headache; it seemed like we always had to ask for a drinks list rather than being offered one, even when it was clear we didn't know what was available. There was also often a significant delay between ordering a drink and it arriving, which isn't great when you choose a particular wine to go with a certain dish and it finally arrives just before you finish eating. Otherwise the service everywhere was friendly and professional (except for the waiter who wrote down his own name and that of his assistant so that I could give them a positive review in our post-cruise survey; that was a bit too much, and I 'lost' the paper immediately). We also marked points down for the first 48 hours during which no fewer than seven different waiters tried to sell us the wine tasting event. The mini-suite layout generally is very good. Plenty of storage, full bath, and the sofa is the length of a single bed because the mattress lifts straight up when converted. It's not a fold out with a bar in the middle and becomes a proper single bed, which was fantastic for our daughter and especially when we could close the curtains between her 'bedroom' and ours. It's a long, narrow space and a few times I nearly whacked my shoulder on the TV when moving around the foot of the bed, but overall there was probably more usable space than our hotel room before the cruise. The wardrobe was big enough to hang wet washing from the laundromat, and since it's opposite the aircon return vent there was enough circulation for things to dry pretty well. Our cabin steward, Alfred, was wonderful. He was there when we needed him, always remembered our names and was a great example of customer service. Our two experiences of the Lotus Spa were both good (and both expensive with the universal day spa product up-sell at the end when one is relaxed and vulnerable). I had a fantastic Elemis facial on the first sea day, and hubby and I had a relaxing - and bruising - couples massage on the last. The book group meeting was a bit of a farce. The Princess website listed two books for July and August cruises, so I bought and read both months before departure like a girly swot. I missed the first sea day book club session in the library where they hand out copies, so I also missed the fact there weren't enoughcopies on board and they went with something else entirely that I'd never heard of. Only three others turned up to the book group meeting on the last sea day and one of them hadn't read any of the books, so it wasn't much of a discussion anyway. (For the record, 'Little Fires Everywhere' by Celeste Ng is an awesome read; at least some good came of it.) The only other structured activity we did was the Ship Tour, which we were some of the first passengers to register for because we boarded so early and made a bee-line to the Service Desk. It was $150 per person and over three fairly intense hours, but worth every penny. If you're interested in How Things Work, this is the activity for you. We visited places that passengers never normally see and learned a lot about what happens behind the scenes. Our ten year old daughter loved the kids' club, especially just hanging out with the other kids during general play and the Junior Chefs program where she got to decorate a cake in the main galley. She said a few of the structured activities were a bit boring, but she absolutely thrived on the trust and independence of being authorised to check herself in. They close for two hours at lunch and dinner, so we still got to eat as a family. She also spent plenty of time in the pool, from which she had an excellent view of the huge outdoor screen. For port days we did a mix of our own thing and shore tours with both Princess and another company. At Oslo, Warnemunde and Tallinn the ship docked close enough to the city that we could walk to many sites or use public transport. There were also heaps of hop on hop off buses sitting ready to go, which we might have planned around had we known. In Oslo we were able to buy the Oslo Pass at the cruise terminal, which included our public transport and was good value (ditto the Copenhagen Card, although we skipped the Stockholm one). In St Petersburg we booked a two day tour with TJ Travel after finding they were significantly cheaper than Princess, with the added benefit of being able to cram more into the itinerary because our group of 12 in a small van could get closer to the front door and took less time to get through toilet stops than a bus of 40+ people. We had no problems with visas, and found the representative holding a sign the second we cleared passport control. There's a new restriction that independent tour buses are not allowed into the port unto 8:30, but their representatives are there to meet people from the minute the ship docks and get passengers organised into their groups ready to go as soon as the gates open. It was very easy, even with seven cruise ships in port that day, and they got us back to the ship in plenty of time despite the traffic chaos of the FIFA semi final. TJ Travel also offered a wide range of evening add-on options, including a Russian cooking class that we highly recommend if that's your thing. In Helsinki we did a Princess tour to a national park with a reindeer farm, which was enormous fun and a blessed relief from museums and cathedrals and palaces. In Stockholm we did a viking-themed tour, partly because we saw the Vasa at the start of our holiday and it was one of the few tours that didn't go there. Both were good, and we received clear instructions of where on the ship to meet and when. Sailing under the Great Beltway Bridge that connects two Danish islands was incredible because the funnel only clears by about five meters. The first time (heading south from Oslo to Warnemunde) was about 10.30pm and we watched from the front of the Sky Deck. The second time (heading north back to Copenhagen the long way around Zealand) was about 9.45pm and we stood where the jogging track on the Sports Deck widens out. Both are excellent viewing spots for different perspectives. My biggest fear was sea-sickness (based on horrific memories of overnight ferries) so I deliberately booked us a cabin in the middle of the ship and hoped for the best. It was absolutely fine; even with high winds around Warnemunde the ship barely swayed. The only thing I felt was a bit smug seeing people with unnecessary patches behind their ears. The way Princess play up to their Love Boat heritage is enormous fun that never got as old as we felt when it went over our daughter's head. There's no towel art in the cabins, but in the mornings you should check out the kiosk on the Lido deck where they hand out the pool towels and blankets... A cruise ship is an easy and time-effective way of travelling between the Baltic capitals, and of visiting Russia without the hassles of applying for an independent travel visa. Our daughter loved cruising and wants to go again as soon as possible (destination irrelevant). My husband liked it for the port visits but felt he'd get bored with any more sea days, whereas I wished we'd had more sea days and time to do more of the on-board activities. We both accepted the trade-off between the convenience and built-in relaxation time of cruising, and the lack of control over the schedule and not getting to spend as much time in Stockholm and Helsinki as we wanted. Overall it was a holiday that we all enjoyed and can happily recommend.

A great way to see the Baltic Sea

Regal Princess Cruise Review by Kingsvilletess

13 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2018
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
This was our first ever cruise, so I write this with the upfront disclaimer that we have nothing to compare it to other than non-cruise vacations. We can, however, tell you some things our research didn't uncover that we'd have liked to know in advance and other first-timers might appreciate.

We chose this specific cruise because: (a) the itinerary covered all of the ports we wanted to visit; (b) it's a family-friendly cruise line; and (c) the dates suited availability around our daughter's school terms. The itinerary only includes a few hours in Stockholm so we visited there for two days at the start of our holiday. We also went to Legoland, and had three days in Copenhagen prior to embarkation and one more after. We stayed at the affiliated Scandic Copenhagen (great location) so that we could do Princess transfers to and from the ship, which worked very well because we boarded an hour before other passengers and had a chance to explore before it got crazy. Everything about the transfer, embarkation and disembarkation processes - including luggage - seemed to go very smoothly.

The Regal Princess is enormous, with a lot of little bars and seating areas tucked away all over the place. In eleven nights we still probably didn't find everything and certainly didn't try everything. Signage around the ship was handy and easy to reference. We had dinner at the Crown Grill one night and Alfredo's another, and both were good. The rest we split between the variety and happy chaos of the Horizon Court buffet, and anytime dining at the main dining rooms where we never waited more than a few minutes for a table even on the formal nights. Getting drinks was our biggest headache; it seemed like we always had to ask for a drinks list rather than being offered one, even when it was clear we didn't know what was available. There was also often a significant delay between ordering a drink and it arriving, which isn't great when you choose a particular wine to go with a certain dish and it finally arrives just before you finish eating. Otherwise the service everywhere was friendly and professional (except for the waiter who wrote down his own name and that of his assistant so that I could give them a positive review in our post-cruise survey; that was a bit too much, and I 'lost' the paper immediately). We also marked points down for the first 48 hours during which no fewer than seven different waiters tried to sell us the wine tasting event.

The mini-suite layout generally is very good. Plenty of storage, full bath, and the sofa is the length of a single bed because the mattress lifts straight up when converted. It's not a fold out with a bar in the middle and becomes a proper single bed, which was fantastic for our daughter and especially when we could close the curtains between her 'bedroom' and ours. It's a long, narrow space and a few times I nearly whacked my shoulder on the TV when moving around the foot of the bed, but overall there was probably more usable space than our hotel room before the cruise. The wardrobe was big enough to hang wet washing from the laundromat, and since it's opposite the aircon return vent there was enough circulation for things to dry pretty well. Our cabin steward, Alfred, was wonderful. He was there when we needed him, always remembered our names and was a great example of customer service.

Our two experiences of the Lotus Spa were both good (and both expensive with the universal day spa product up-sell at the end when one is relaxed and vulnerable). I had a fantastic Elemis facial on the first sea day, and hubby and I had a relaxing - and bruising - couples massage on the last.

The book group meeting was a bit of a farce. The Princess website listed two books for July and August cruises, so I bought and read both months before departure like a girly swot. I missed the first sea day book club session in the library where they hand out copies, so I also missed the fact there weren't enoughcopies on board and they went with something else entirely that I'd never heard of. Only three others turned up to the book group meeting on the last sea day and one of them hadn't read any of the books, so it wasn't much of a discussion anyway. (For the record, 'Little Fires Everywhere' by Celeste Ng is an awesome read; at least some good came of it.)

The only other structured activity we did was the Ship Tour, which we were some of the first passengers to register for because we boarded so early and made a bee-line to the Service Desk. It was $150 per person and over three fairly intense hours, but worth every penny. If you're interested in How Things Work, this is the activity for you. We visited places that passengers never normally see and learned a lot about what happens behind the scenes.

Our ten year old daughter loved the kids' club, especially just hanging out with the other kids during general play and the Junior Chefs program where she got to decorate a cake in the main galley. She said a few of the structured activities were a bit boring, but she absolutely thrived on the trust and independence of being authorised to check herself in. They close for two hours at lunch and dinner, so we still got to eat as a family. She also spent plenty of time in the pool, from which she had an excellent view of the huge outdoor screen.

For port days we did a mix of our own thing and shore tours with both Princess and another company. At Oslo, Warnemunde and Tallinn the ship docked close enough to the city that we could walk to many sites or use public transport. There were also heaps of hop on hop off buses sitting ready to go, which we might have planned around had we known. In Oslo we were able to buy the Oslo Pass at the cruise terminal, which included our public transport and was good value (ditto the Copenhagen Card, although we skipped the Stockholm one).

In St Petersburg we booked a two day tour with TJ Travel after finding they were significantly cheaper than Princess, with the added benefit of being able to cram more into the itinerary because our group of 12 in a small van could get closer to the front door and took less time to get through toilet stops than a bus of 40+ people. We had no problems with visas, and found the representative holding a sign the second we cleared passport control. There's a new restriction that independent tour buses are not allowed into the port unto 8:30, but their representatives are there to meet people from the minute the ship docks and get passengers organised into their groups ready to go as soon as the gates open. It was very easy, even with seven cruise ships in port that day, and they got us back to the ship in plenty of time despite the traffic chaos of the FIFA semi final. TJ Travel also offered a wide range of evening add-on options, including a Russian cooking class that we highly recommend if that's your thing.

In Helsinki we did a Princess tour to a national park with a reindeer farm, which was enormous fun and a blessed relief from museums and cathedrals and palaces. In Stockholm we did a viking-themed tour, partly because we saw the Vasa at the start of our holiday and it was one of the few tours that didn't go there. Both were good, and we received clear instructions of where on the ship to meet and when.

Sailing under the Great Beltway Bridge that connects two Danish islands was incredible because the funnel only clears by about five meters. The first time (heading south from Oslo to Warnemunde) was about 10.30pm and we watched from the front of the Sky Deck. The second time (heading north back to Copenhagen the long way around Zealand) was about 9.45pm and we stood where the jogging track on the Sports Deck widens out. Both are excellent viewing spots for different perspectives.

My biggest fear was sea-sickness (based on horrific memories of overnight ferries) so I deliberately booked us a cabin in the middle of the ship and hoped for the best. It was absolutely fine; even with high winds around Warnemunde the ship barely swayed. The only thing I felt was a bit smug seeing people with unnecessary patches behind their ears.

The way Princess play up to their Love Boat heritage is enormous fun that never got as old as we felt when it went over our daughter's head. There's no towel art in the cabins, but in the mornings you should check out the kiosk on the Lido deck where they hand out the pool towels and blankets...

A cruise ship is an easy and time-effective way of travelling between the Baltic capitals, and of visiting Russia without the hassles of applying for an independent travel visa. Our daughter loved cruising and wants to go again as soon as possible (destination irrelevant). My husband liked it for the port visits but felt he'd get bored with any more sea days, whereas I wished we'd had more sea days and time to do more of the on-board activities. We both accepted the trade-off between the convenience and built-in relaxation time of cruising, and the lack of control over the schedule and not getting to spend as much time in Stockholm and Helsinki as we wanted.

Overall it was a holiday that we all enjoyed and can happily recommend.
Kingsvilletess’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 10 to 12
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MA C429
Fantastic mini-suite location. We had the angled balcony, which was huge compared to others. It's under the Skywalk but far enough down that people up there can't even see the door let alone anything inside. No privacy issues at all. Deck 10 is half way between the Plaza venues and the Lido Deck, so either is reachable by stairs if need be. C429 is conveniently close to the elevators and stairs, but we heard no noise from there at all.

The mini-suite layout generally is very good. Plenty of storage, full bath, and the sofa is the length of a single bed because the mattress lifts straight up when converted. It's not a fold out with a bar in the middle and becomes a proper single bed, which was fantastic for our daughter and especially when we could close the curtains between her 'bedroom' and ours. It's a long, narrow space and a few times I nearly whacked my shoulder on the TV when moving around the foot of the bed, but overall there was probably more usable space than our hotel room before the cruise. The wardrobe was big enough to hang wet washing from the laundromat, and since it's opposite the aircon return vent there was enough circulation for things to dry pretty well.
Riviera Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Copenhagen
    The Copenhagen Card is great value, and includes public transport and entry at some sites outside Copenhagen (e.g. Kronborg Castle, a.k.a. Hamlet's Elsinor). Consider buying a two day pass for the Tivoli Gardens because it's open until 11pm and is a great place to go after the museums close.
    View All 1,041 Copenhagen Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Helsinki
    Something completely different to churches and museums, and a lovely opportunity to feed a reindeer. We only had a very brief time in Senate Square, but if you want you can choose to return to the ship using the Princess shuttle service.
    View All 12,453 Helsinki Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Helsinki Cruise Port Review
  • Oslo
    Oslo is beautiful. We used the public transport included in the Oslo Pass (available at the Cruise Port terminal) rather than HOHO to get around and it was fairly easy. The Museum of Cultural History and Viking Ship museums are walking distance apart and both very worthwhile. Then it's only a short bus ride to the excellent Fram museum and the Kon-Tiki museum (which we ran out of time for); they share a car park and are right next to the ferry port. Norway Designs is a great place for shopping for Scandinavian design.
    View All 355 Oslo Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Oslo Cruise Port Review
  • Rostock (Warnemunde)
    We made our own way by train to Rostock, and then on to Bad Doberan to ride the Molli steam train to Kühlungsborn Ost and visit the seaside. It was fairly easy to do by public transport, and lovely to see some countryside instead of just cities. At the station at Warnemunde go into the ticket office to buy tickets for the return trip to Bad Doberan, then the Molli shares the same train station so.
    View All 346 Rostock (Warnemunde) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • City Tour
    Significantly cheaper than Princess, with the added benefit of being able to cram more into the itinerary because our group of 12 in a small van could get closer to the front door and took less time to get through toilet stops than a bus of 40+ people. We had no problems with visas, and found the representative holding a sign the second we cleared passport control. There's a new restriction that independent tour buses are not allowed into the port unto 8:30, but their representatives are there to meet people from the minute the ship docks and get passengers organised into their groups ready to go as soon as the gates open. It was very easy, even with seven cruise ships in port that day, and they got us back to the ship in plenty of time despite the traffic chaos of the FIFA semi final. TJ Travel also offered a wide range of evening add-on options, including a Russian cooking class that we highly recommend if that's your thing. Our tour guide spoke excellent English and was vary knowledgeable.
    View All 326 City Tour Reviews
  • Stockholm
    Two very different looks at the Vikings. One is a display of Viking gold and other artifacts at the Stockholm Museum, and the other is a more interactive display of how Vikings lived day-to-day that's ideal for kids.
    View All 12,453 Stockholm Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Tallinn
    The old town is beautiful to just wander around. Wear sturdy shoes for the cobblestones (our daughters there so many because it's Es-STONE-ia). The walk to the top is easier if you go up the slope to Kiek in de Kok from Müürivahe street, cut over to the Patkuli Viewing Platform and then head down the stairs. From there you can walk west to Balti Jaama Turg and Telliskivi Creative City to learn more about Tallinn's food and arts, which is a nice forward looking contrast to the Old Town. From the latter it's only about 5 euros by taxi back to the port.
    View All 952 Tallinn Cruise Port Reviews
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