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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 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. BACKGROUND: 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. DEPARTURE: 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. STATEROOM: 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. SHIPBOARD ACTIVITIES: 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. ENTERTAINMENT: 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. MEALS: 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. BREAKFAST: 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. LUNCH: 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. DINNER: 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. SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: 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: Newport, R.I.: 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: https://www.wpri.com/live-cams/newport-harbor https://www.wpri.com/live-cams/narragansett-beach Boston, MA: 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 Halifax, Canada: 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. DISEMBARKATION: 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.

A Tale of Two Ships

Regal Princess Cruise Review by SeaMaverick

28 people found this helpful
Trip Details
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.

BACKGROUND:

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.

DEPARTURE:

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.

STATEROOM:

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.

SHIPBOARD ACTIVITIES:

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.

ENTERTAINMENT:

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.

MEALS:

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.

BREAKFAST:

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.

LUNCH:

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.

DINNER:

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.

SPECIALTY RESTAURANT:

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:

Newport, R.I.:

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:

https://www.wpri.com/live-cams/newport-harbor

https://www.wpri.com/live-cams/narragansett-beach

Boston, MA:

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

Halifax, Canada:

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.

DISEMBARKATION:

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.
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin IA A418
Room A418 is excellently located. This is a sideways cabin, in that when you enter you are immediately in the sleeping area. You need to go around a corner in the room to access the closets and the bathroom. This gives the impression of having a mini-suite. There is more than sufficient storage for 2 people. There are two closets (open front, no door), multiple shelves and at least a half-dozen drawers. Additional storage for your luggage is provided underneath the bed.

The room has the largest cabin safe I have seen, but also the smallest bathroom I have encountered on any cruise ship. (While sitting in the middle of the bathroom you can literally touch all 4 walls!)

Additional amenities include a mini refrigerator, an oversize flat screen TV, a full length mirror, one desk chair, and a portable hair dryer (wired inside the drawer beneath the TV for some odd reason). There is no bathrobe or towel animals at night, but Princess gives each room a complimentary tote bag for shopping in port.

The bed is extra firm. Additionally, on this ship you must insert either your keycard or similar card into a slot on the wall to activate the lights. When you remove it, the lights automatically go out in approximately 1 minute.

All in all, a comfortable room for 2 people for a 7 night cruise.
Riviera Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Acadia National Park
    This is simply a bus ride through the park with only one 20-minute stop in front of the rest rooms/gift shop. Our tour guide seemed to have a general problem with tourists coming to the island and causing congestion in the park, which is at odds with the fact that it is the tourism that is bringing dollars into the area. The excursion might be appropriate for someone who has never seen Maine before, and who prefers an absolutely passive experience as there is no walking involved at all. But the bottom line -- it is a 2 hour bus ride with trees rushing past about 12 inches away from the side windows.

    This is a shame, as the town of Bar Harbor itself is quite nice. It has that small, New England town charm. Plenty of shops, plenty of places to eat lobster or blueberry treats, and pretty scenery.
    View All 190 Acadia National Park Reviews
  • Boston
    Boston is a city in love with itself. Either you share this feeling and enjoy being there, or you do not and cannot wait for the ship to leave. This is a major metropolitan area, not a quaint tourist destination, so keep that in mind. Getting downtown from the Black Falcon Terminal is not really walkable -- not so much because of the distance but because of the location and traffic. My recommendation is take this opportunity to stay on the ship and enjoy an enrichment program.
    View All 637 Boston Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Boston Cruise Port Review
  • Halifax
    Very pretty Canadian town. The Harbour Walk is a great way to see some of the local sights, and shopping at Pier 21 is a step above regular tourist tchotchke.
    View All 734 Halifax Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Halifax Cruise Port Review
  • Newport
    Newport was gorgeous, and very walkable if you are in good shape. Start early in the morning and walk to the head of the Cliff Walk, then take your time strolling along the water. The tender ride takes about a 1/2 hour, and the line to get back on the ship in the afternoon is very long - so plan accordingly.
    View All 208 Newport Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Newport Cruise Port Review
  • Saint John (New Brunswick)
    If it is your first time to St. John, it is a quaint maritime community. If you have been here before, and seen/done everything, then it is simply a nice stop to get off the ship and walk around for a few hours. The people are nice, but there are no real sights to see in town.
    View All 372 Saint John (New Brunswick) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Saint John (New Brunswick) Cruise Port Review