Wednesday, 6 October 2021

An Adult Only Escape On The Regal Princess




Last month, Jon & I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to enjoy our first proper holiday together sans children in over 9 years!

We've had the odd overnight hotel stay here and there since the kids came along, but this was the first time we'd been away together on our own for more than a night.

We'd decided that the UK staycation cruises being offered this summer by many major cruise lines were a great opportunity to try a line we wouldn't usually have the opportunity to experience or wouldn't be sure of choosing - and after some deliberation, we settled on Princess Cruises.

We love cruise holidays, but have previously only sailed with Royal Caribbean, P & O and Disney Cruise Line  - we prefer American customer service and food, and so Princess Cruises seemed a good option.

We have previously had a press lunch on board one of their ships a few years back, and we remembered being impressed by them - and so, we booked ourselves a 4 night break on board the Regal Princess.

After a lot of parental guilt, we headed off to Southampton to board - and I have to admit, I was not feeling excited about it. I'd joined a Facebook group for our sailing dates, and had been put off by some of the comments from members there who seemed to have quite stuffy attitudes and were insistent that everything onboard was awful - unfortunately cruising does often seem to attract snobs, and I was concerned that we were about to spend 4 days among a ship full of them! 

I was also anxious about being away from the children and quite honestly I felt certain that I wasn't going to enjoy a holiday without them. As much as I had craved some space, I felt lost at the thought of not having 3 little people to entertain and I honestly couldn't imagine how on earth I was going to manage to fill my time for 4 days with nobody else to think about.

But I needn't have worried. As it turned out, I enjoyed every second of it.  I discovered things about myself that I hadn't even been aware of before - for example I had always thought of myself as being socially anxious but it turns out that I love chatting to strangers, and I spent hours every day in the pool talking to all sorts of different people and having a brilliant time while Jon snoozed happily on the sun loungers.

The chance to enjoy a book in peace and quiet, eat a meal uninterrupted and have a conversation where we could actually hear ourselves think was wonderful - and I came home feeling totally refreshed and relaxed....which in turn is good for the children too, as a stressed out mama is good for nobody!

Here's a little rundown on our thoughts on the Regal Princess.




The Ship

My first thought was that the ship is a particularly beautiful one. Its atrium especially, with its gold furnishings and floor-to-ceiling chandeliers, is breath taking. The restaurants and bars are all decked out in classic ocean liner style, and the pool deck was beautiful too - particularly at night when all lit up. 

Princess Cruises were the ships that The Love Boat was filmed on, and the Regal Princess bears some Love Boat theming as well as having a horn that sounds The Love Boat theme song - I don't remember the show myself but I appreciate a gimmick nonetheless!

Our balcony cabin was spacious and well decorated, with probably the comfiest bed I've experienced at sea. 

Princess Cruises have recently introduced their Medallion system - this is a wearable device which gives you access to your stateroom as you approach it. I thought this was genius and it worked perfectly for us! There's also a little screen outside your room where you can press either "Privacy" or "Make up my room" rather than using little paper door hangers - a great use of tech.  The cabin also had a very large TV screen and a great selection of movies and TV shows, you could also order room service through the TV too.

Unfortunately one area that did let Princess down was their medallion app - this was supposed to allow you to order drinks or snacks to anywhere on the ship, but I only received my orders around 40% of the time which was a shame and I found the app very glitchy too.

As for the amenities on board - there were numerous bars,  a spa, hot tubs, and 2 pools - one of which was the adults-only solarium - this was a lovely relaxing space that we used daily as it was much quieter than the main pool.
 The main pool featured a large movie screen, where movies were played during the day and at night too. During the evening, the pool deck was transformed into a water fountain show which was a really lovely touch. 







Activities & Entertainment

The ship was adults-only for our sailing, and so the activities on board were things like quizzes and singers or pianists. We went along to a few of the quizzes and really enjoyed them, but I did feel that there was only just enough to do activity wise - I'm used to more options on other cruise lines.

We went along to watch the ships band Meridian most evenings, and really enjoyed their sets - it was  shame that dancing wasn't allowed due to Covid restrictions but the atmosphere wasn't too dampened by this and the band did a great job at keeping spirits up. 

The evening shows in the theatre were all of really high quality - during our sailing we saw two productions by the ships entertainment team - "Sweet Soul Music" and "Bravo" - both of which were excellent, and I particularly enjoyed the dance elements. We also saw Gareth Gates perform one evening which was really good. There was a comedian set but we didn't see that one. 

There was also a sail away party with performances from the entertainment team which was good fun and the cruise director Andi was one of the best we've seen so far - very personable and entertaining. 

There was also a very good casino on board, so we spent most of our evenings enjoying a bit of roulette!




Food & Service

The service on board was truly excellent. Every single waiter and member of bar staff we encountered on board was friendly, warm and welcoming. Nothing was too much trouble for them, and they always took the time to have a chat with us  - Christian in the main dining room and Nelly in the Princess Live bar were particularly lovely. 

Unfortunately I have to say that for me, the food was hit and miss.  I had some really excellent starters and desserts in the main dining room (the shrimp cocktail and fettucine alfredo starter were stand out favourites), but my main course was disappointing every evening of the cruise - I found this very unusual as I've always been impressed with the food on other cruise lines.

We ate at the Crown Grill one evening which is a speciality restaurant that we'd heard some fantastic things about - but although the service was good here, I didn't feel it stood out anymore so than the main dining room and the food certainly didn't blow me away. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. I'd say it was distinctly average.

The buffet was also a bit of a let down - it seemed to open only very briefly for lunch, between noon-2 pm - I quite often prefer a later lunch but when we went in around 3pm one day there was nothing available but a few sad looking cakes. 
 On the occasions we did manage to eat there, the food was very good - but the options available weren't really to our taste. They seemed to be focusing a lot on the British crowd with themes such as Fish & Chips night, The Great British Roast and Pie & Mash - I may be in the minority it seems, but I prefer not to eat traditional British food when on holiday!

The other food options on board were the poolside pizzeria and grill offering the likes of hot dogs and burgers - these were very good, the pizza in particular was real New York style slices - delicious!

There is also a pizza restaurant on board - Alfredos - we ate lunch here one day, and really enjoyed it. The pizza was excellent, and it was a nice little quiet spot mid-afternoon - it's included in the cruise fare so I'd certainly recommend it.

The international cafe in the atrium servces light snacks and cakes, as well as coffees - we went here most evenings to finish off the night. It was a nice little spot to enjoy a sandwhich, and the food was usually good although there wasn't tons of choice.








The Highs

*We travelled when the Princess Plus package was included in our cruise fare - this gave us inclusive tips, free wifi and a drinks package which meant all of our soft drinks were free along with an allowance of up to 15 alcoholic drinks per person per day. We aren't big drinkers so we never managed to get anywhere near the 15 drink limit, but we really enjoyed trying lots of different cocktails - they were all delicious! The Captains Bounty in particular is one not to miss. 
The Princess Plus package was a real highlight for us as it allowed us to indulge without worrying about cost.

*The customer service

*The adult only solarium

*The evening entertainment

The Lows

*Unfortunately - the food has to be the main one! Some of it was great but overall it was just too inconsistent.

*The unreliability of the app







Overall Score: We had a brilliant time and we would 100% return for an adults only cruise, but I'm not sure there's enough on board to keep the kids happy for a family holiday and the food let it down - so I give it an 8/10!

You can find out more about Princess Cruise's latest offerings at www.princess.com



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