(The Regal Princess Piazza is the heart of the ship.)
ABOARD THE REGAL PRINCESS – The Regal Princess certainly lives up to her name. She is an elegant beauty. When I boarded the ship today, I was dazzled by the sparkly fish in the ship’s Piazza.
Of course, these aren’t real fish. They are blown-glass fish swimming up and down the lighted columns of the three-deck-tall atrium. That’s right – three ship decks for a glorious gathering spot right in the heart of the ship.
The atrium has waterfalls, lighted spiral staircases, theatrical balconies, bars, dining places, ship services, shops, and a huge chandelier twinkling overhead with more of those artistic fish. The Italian-styled Piazza is also where entertainment will take place, where folks can sit to enjoy drinks and snacks, and where passengers can show off their smooth dance moves on the circular floor. A glass-enclosed elevator glides up and down to give a birds-eye view of the plaza.
Christened on May 11, 2014, the Regal Princess can carry 4,222 passengers and 1,378 crew members. I’ll tell you more about them later. I’ll also let you know about my cabin, the food and all the other goodies on this cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean.
But first, I’ll share the embarkation process and my first impressions of my home for the next week. Flying is seldom fun anymore so I was glad to arrive on time from Indy to Fort Lauderdale and see the cruise line desks set up in the airport’s baggage claim. Other passengers would be arriving at the Miami airport and some would be driving.
Having those temporary cruise line desks at the airport is a great idea. It wasn’t just Princess Cruises but other cruise lines that had cruises departing on Sunday. The airport was crammed with people leaving from cruises and other people arriving for cruises.
I’ve cruised many times for many decades but it was nice to see the desks and to hear a welcoming woman walking through baggage claim with a Princess Cruises sign directing arrivals toward the Princess desk and greeting new passengers.
I paid $38 round-trip to ride the Princess shuttle bus to the cruise terminal and back to the airport when my cruise ended. It’s a good deal. I was on the first shuttle so I followed the Princess woman with the sign to my bus along with many other passengers. We watched our luggage being loaded into the side of the bus (it would later appear miraculously in our shipboard cabins) and then we climbed aboard the big comfy vehicle. It even had an electric plug by my seat to recharge my iPhone.
The driver was funny and the ride was probably 15 minutes. There was a long line of traffic but our driver took a shortcut arranged for cruise passenger shuttles where security officers came out, inspected the bus, talked to the driver and then we were waved to pass onward to the ship.
When I first saw the long line of people snaking around the terminal, I thought this is going to be a mess. There is a shorter speedier “Preferred Check-in” line for some repeat customers but that wasn’t one of my perks.
My line moved surprisingly fast. Even going through the security machines and having my carry-on bag scanned was no problem. I didn’t see anyone being stopped for having something in their pockets or their bags that they shouldn’t have.
The Princess people at the terminal check-in desk certainly knew what they were doing and they did it very quickly. Even sooner than I expected, I was walking up the boarding passage and into that glorious Piazza.
It’s always fun to step onto a new ship. The Regal Princess décor is lovely and subdued – warm woods, glistening marble, sparkling crystal, gleaming brass, bunches of windows, plenty of glass and light. The feeling is very open and airy.
My cabin was already ready. That doesn’t always happen on cruise ships. I have had to wait several hours on other cruises while my cabin was being cleaned from previous cruisers. I understand the delay because turnover must be a very difficult day for the crew – passengers getting off, new passengers coming on. So, I was quite happy to find my cabin, drop off my carry-on bag and head to the upper Deck 16 for something to eat.
I don’t eat airport food so I was ready to enjoy what I knew would be delicious offerings in the ship’s main dining buffet. On the Regal Princess, it is called Horizon Court. The adjoining buffet dining spot is called the Horizon Bistro. In between is the Bakery, supposedly the largest dessert station on any cruise ship. My, oh, my, the sweets I glimpsed in there.
While I was on the upper deck, I took photos of that unusual SeaWalk that juts out from the Lido Deck. It is a strange stomach-churning feeling to walk on that cantilevered glass walkway and see the ocean 16 decks below.
I saw passengers stroll out on the SeaWalk, bend over and wave to someone below who was taking a pic of them. Then the people on the SeaWalk would snap a photo of the person waving below. Oh, the things we do to entertain ourselves.
So, I am aboard ready for a fantastic cruise. I’ll try to write more tonight about my cabin, dining room and anything else I find. Hope you will check back in.
Photos and video by Jackie Sheckler Finch