Day 1: Winter a great time for Regal Princess cruise to Caribbean
A bitter winter wind has stripped the autumn leaves from trees. The last of my roses was nipped by an overnight freeze.
Winter in Indiana is a good time to head to some warmer place, particularly aboard a cruise ship. So I’m packing for a week on the Regal Princess. We will be cruising round trip from Ft. Lauderdale in Florida to Princess Cays, St. Thomas and St. Maarten in the Caribbean with three days at sea.
I always enjoy the ports of call but my favorite is days at sea when there is no land in sight, just the rolling ocean that seems to stretch into the sky. No matter the time of day or night, I love to sit on my private balcony and watch the sea.
I already know that I have a balcony cabin, C735. I’ve looked it up on the Princess website which notes that a whopping 1,438 cabins (81 percent) of Regal Princess cabins have balconies.
In addition to that all-important balcony with two lounge chairs and a table, my cabin has a queen-sized bed, desk, chair, large flat screen TV and a small fridge which I will use every day. Pepsi is my caffeine of choice so I like to have a cold cola and plenty of ice water in my cabin.
Anytime dining option
I’ve picked the “Anytime” dining option. Some folks like a set reservation for each night’s dinner to prevent any possible waiting in line for a table. I prefer the flexibility of Anytime in case I want to stay ashore a little longer, finish a shipboard activity or write a blog while it’s still fresh in my mind.
Launched in 2014, the Regal Princess can carry 4,222 passengers and 1,378 crew members. The ship has two swimming pools, jogging track, basketball court, fitness center, tennis court, spa, wedding chapel, library, internet café, self-laundry, casino, hot tub, shops, movie theatre, art gallery, photo gallery, theatre, WiFi, an eye-catching Piazza and much more.
For dining, the Regal Princess has three dining rooms – Symphony, Concerto and Allegro, plus the Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro near the top deck which offer food from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. In addition is the International Café near the Piazza which features sandwiches, snacks and desserts 24 hours a day.
Alfredo’s Pizzeria near the Piazza serves a set Italian menu in a smaller sit-down restaurant. Pizza, gelato, soft serve ice cream and a grill add still more choices. For an extra price, cruisers can dine at Sabatini’s, Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar, Crab Shack and Crown Grill. The Regal Princess has 10 bars.
I’m looking forward to seeing Princess Cays, a private resort situated on more than 40 acres on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Exclusive to Princess Cruise passengers since 1992, Princess Cays offers more than 1.5 miles of white-sand beaches, water sports and shopping.
I love living in Indiana. If I didn’t like it so much I would leave. But winter is my least favorite time of year in the Hoosier state so it will be wonderful to escape for a week and be pampered by sunny weather and service aboard the Regal Princess. Hope you’ll come along to see what we discover.
Day 2: Technology on Regal Princess helps speed boarding process
Seeing the long line waiting to board the Regal Princess, I thought I would be standing there for quite a while. I was wrong. Boarding the big cruise ship was a breeze.
What made embarking so efficient and quick? The well-organized Princess staff kept the line moving quickly and most passengers had prepared their pre-boarding forms via computer at home. That meant passengers arrived with boarding passes in their hands.
Ah, the joys of technology!
In the comfort of my home, I had leisurely completed typing in the necessary information and printed out my boarding pass.
Princess also had sent me several emails before my cruise date reminding me of any information they might still need. Three days before the cruise, I received an email with “Final Information Before You Sail.”
The email listed what I needed to bring – my ship boarding pass, passport and any medication. I also received a luggage tag on line to print and staple to my suitcase handle. The tag had my name, ship name and cabin number. I travel with carry-on luggage and my computer bag so I stapled the luggage tag on my suitcase and was ready to go.
Cruise ship shuttle
Before leaving home, I also had booked the cruise ship shuttle from Fort Lauderdale airport to Port Everglades terminal. Cost was $38 per person for a shuttle to the ship and a shuttle back to the airport at cruise end, a bargain for not having to hail a cab in the airport chaos.
When my plane landed, it was easy to find the Princess shuttle kiosk in the baggage claim area. The Princess rep checked my name off the shuttle list, gave me a big blue laminated cardboard with my shuttle number and directed me to a seat to await the shuttle.
When the airport shuttle boarding time arrived, the Princess rep led a procession of cruisers to the big transport bus. Since I take carry-on luggage and a backpack, I took my two pieces on the bus. About six other passengers did the same. The other luggage was stored underneath the bus and passengers would not see it again until it was delivered to their ship staterooms.
I prefer to keep my luggage safe at hand, if possible. I realize that not everyone can do that. Their luggage might be too cumbersome or too much of a hassle to carry. The odds of luggage getting lost on its way to a cruise ship are very slim. In all my decades of cruising, I have seen it happen only a few times and it is miserable. On a different cruise line last year, two passengers on my deck never did receive their luggage. Also in my carry on, I have notes and work to do after boarding the ship so want to have those available in case I have to wait for my stateroom to be ready.
The ride to the ship terminal took about 15 minutes. In the terminal, I saw the long line and 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.
Cabin was ready and waiting
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 bags 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 Pastry Shop, 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.
When I was at home, I also had paid online for the Unlimited Soda & More Package for a total of $56.35 for the week cruise so my boarding card already had the designation that I had paid for the program.
Paying ahead of time online for that Unlimited Soda package is another time-saving tip. Instead of having to find the table aboard ship that is selling the beverage packages, my cruise card was already ready for use.
A passenger seated at a table next to me had bought the Premier Beverage Package before boarding and already had a tasty-looking Bahama Breeze cocktail. The premier package costs $59.99 per day per person plus 15 percent gratuity and includes unlimited (costing $12 or less on the menu) cocktails, wine, beer, bottled water, soda and specialty coffees.
The Regal Princess emphasizes health practices and signs of that are abundant around the ship. Along with the customary hand sanitizing stations, the ship also has little alcoves with sinks, soap and paper towels before entering Horizon Court.
As noted in a printed health advisory given to us when we boarded the ship, “hand sanitizers are only partially effective against norovirus and should therefore be used after and not instead of hand washing, particularly before eating in the buffet.”
Rather than having to find a bathroom to clean my hands before eating, those hand-washing stations are very handy. A great idea.
Ocean Medallion Program
So I’m on board the Regal Princess for my weeklong cruise. Notice all those online computer references I’ve mentioned? Technology has made this boarding process so much simpler and I haven’t even told you about the biggest Princess technology yet – the new Ocean Medallion program – the first of its kind on ocean cruise ships.
I’ve just boarded the ship and already have seen one nice advantage of the Ocean Medallion. When I checked in, along with my cruise card I was given a round silver and blue medal medallion with the Princess logo, my name, the name of the ship and the date of our cruise.
The medallion was on a Princess lanyard to wear around my neck. When I walked up to my stateroom with my backpack in one hand and my suitcase in the other, the Ocean Medallion magically unlocked my door. I didn’t have to do anything. Just stand there and the door was unlocked.
It’s supposed to be quite a high tech deal so I’m looking forward to finding out more to share with you. Stay tuned.
Day 3: My stateroom on the Regal Princess has all that’s needed for a comfy cruise
Opening the door to my Regal Princess cabin, I knew this was the perfect place for me.
A balcony will be a great spot to watch the ocean roll. It has two chairs and a small table, plus privacy screens on both sides. The lower half of the balcony is Plexiglas so the ocean view is not obstructed. Large sliding glass doors lead outside to my balcony so I can see the ocean rolling even when I am in bed – if I leave the curtains open.
A whopping 1,438 cabins on the Regal Princess have balconies. That is 81 percent of the ship’s total 1,780 cabins which should make many passengers happy. Being able to sit on my own private balcony late at night or early in the morning is one of the prime pleasures of cruising, in my opinion.
The Regal Princess also has 342 interior cabins, plus some suites and mini suites and 38 wheelchair accessible cabins. I didn’t see any of those but I can tell you about my stateroom. It is No. 735 on Deck 10 also known as Caribe Deck.
Entering the cabin, the cruise card goes into a slot on a wall inside the door. That turns on the lights in the cabin which saves on electricity when no one is in the cabin to use those lights. The slot is also a secure place to put your card when you enter the cabin and pick it up when you leave.
Almost every cruise I’ve been on, some passenger on the first day is flagging down a room attendant saying they can’t turn on the lights in their room. Sure enough, that happened today. As I walked to my room, the passenger in the cabin down the hall said there was something wrong with the lights in her room. I showed her how to put her cruise card in the slot by her door and she laughed about the new-fangled technology. All it takes is once to learn.
My stateroom is decorated in neutral shades of cream and tan with light wood and a tan-patterned carpet that looks like honeycombs to me. On the wall opposite the bed is a big flat-screen TV with remote control. In-room movies and TV shows on-demand are free. Ship shows also are shown, including updates from the cruise director and information about various ports we will be visiting on our cruise.
A big colorful painting on the wall depicts a lovely boardwalk stretching into an ocean scene. Quite a nice sight but it can’t compare to the real ones outside by sliding glass doors.
Cabin offers plenty of storage space
I have a queen-size bed since I am a solo traveler. The room also has two bedside stands with lamps, a fair-sized desk with a mirror and a chair, another armchair and round table, and a small refrigerator inside a cabinet which also serves as a counter with three shelves on the side.
Between the end tables, desk and counter, my room has plenty of drawers. In addition, there is hanging space, hangers and more shelves in an open closet. A closed closet with shelves also has a safe.
The desk has a ship-wide telephone and a stationary hair dryer in the top right drawer. I heard someone asking the room attendant for a hair dryer because the passenger must not have opened all the drawers to discover the hidden hair dryer which they probably thought would be in the bathroom. I don’t use a hair dryer so I don’t know how good it is.
Complimentary white robes are available for use while on the cruise. If one isn’t in your cabin, just ask the room attendant for one. The bathroom was small but big enough for me with a vanity, commode and shower. Shelves above the vanity offer even more storage space.
The walk-in shower has a shower curtain and wall dispensers with Lotus Spa shower gel and a shampoo/conditioner combo. I prefer to use a shampoo and then a conditioner so would bring my own next time. The vanity has a bar of soap and a tube of hand lotion.
Bedcovers are white European-style duvets and linens topped with posh fluffy pillows. The cabin attendant comes in every night while I am at dinner, turns down the bed, leaves two chocolates on the pillow and removes the two green cushions and strip of green material at the bottom of the bed. He also leaves the next day’s Princess Patter newsletter on my bed.
That’s it. I’m quite comfortable here. So now I am off to explore the ship. Will let you know what I find.
Day 4: Regal Princess has name befitting her elegant beauty
A Christmas tree adorned with gold and silver ornaments glows with twinkling lights. Sparkling wreaths decorate doors and entryways. Garlands are draped on banisters and columns. Battery-powered candles cast a soft light on tabletops.
And I didn’t have to do any of it.
One of the pleasures of holiday cruising is seeing the cruise ship all decked out in lovely Christmas finery. Elves must work through the night while we sleep to complete all these decorations. The holiday finery is beautiful and to make it even more enjoyable, I know that I won’t have to take down all this décor when the holidays are over.
It’s always fun to step onto a new ship and discover its décor, its dining and entertainment spots, its places to go to be with people and its places to go to be alone.
The Regal Princess has plenty of everything.
The 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. The Regal Princess certainly lives up to her elegant name.
Piazza gathering spot
The heart of the ship is the glittering three-deck-tall atrium called the Piazza. That’s right – three ship decks for a glorious gathering spot.
The Piazza has waterfalls, lighted spiral staircases, theatrical balconies, bars, dining places, ship services, shops and a huge chandelier twinkling overhead with sparkly fish.
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.
The Italian-styled Piazza is where much of the 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 can already tell there is going to be no shortage of entertainment on this wonderful Regal Princess cruise. The daily Princess Patter newsletter that is placed on my bed every evening at turndown is filled with a wealth of possible activities from early morning to after midnight.
For me, I am going to be quite happy just sitting quietly and enjoying the lovely holiday décor, especially with the balmy weather and sunny beaches on our cruise instead of the winter ice and snow at my Indiana home.
Day 5: Regal Princess: Princess Cays private beach offers many activities
Alan plans to snorkel and take photos of the colorful fish in the coral reef. Karen is looking forward to browsing through local arts and crafts at beach shops. Their son Sam is taking an aqua bike ride with a new friend and their daughter Lauren wants to practice her paddle boarding.
The family from California says they have been looking forward to Princess Cays which offers plenty of adventure and attractions. Or folks can just lean back in a beach chair and relax.
The private 30-acre beachfront resort owned by Princess Cruise Line since 1992 is the first stop on our weeklong cruise aboard the Regal Princess. Princess Cays is located in the Bahamas, in the southern portion of the island of Eleuthera, which was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
The island is 100 miles long and about 2 miles wide. After Columbus visited the island on his maiden voyage, a British group called the Eleutherian Adventurers settled on the island in 1648 to escape religious persecution. They named the island Eleutheria, the Greek word for freedom.
The island is graced with gently rolling hills and miles of sparkling white sand beaches and mangrove trees. Eleuthera is about 200 miles from where we set sail in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Choices to fit every interest
As with all shore stops, passengers can stay aboard the Regal Princess and enjoy a huge choice of shipboard activities or they can go ashore for even more things to do. On Princess Cays, activities include swimming at the private beach, renting water fun equipment, shopping at the island marketplace and dining at the complimentary barbecue lunch.
Princess Cays has a coral reef teeming with schools of tropical fish for snorkeling and provides all the necessary equipment, including a small bag of fish food to ensure that snorkelers see plenty of fish up close.
Ships can’t dock here so Regal Princess passengers must take tenders from ship to shore and back. We will be anchored offshore with tenders available only from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and it is not convenient to take the tender back and forth so passengers are packing what they need for a day on the island.
Bars and drink stations are plentiful on Princess Cays and a large complimentary barbecue lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the island. Grill choices are burgers, hot dogs, chicken and ribs with all the fixings. There’s also a big tropical fruit area if diners want to eat light in anticipation of dinner on the ship.
Princess Cays is connected by a series of paved paths that lead to palm tree dotted beaches where clamshells and private bungalows are available for rent. Bring water shoes, as the shoreline by the water can have sharp rocks and coral fragments.
Unlike some other cruise line private islands, Princess offers excursions to nearby villages from Princess Cays. Although Princess uses a section of the island, the rest of Eleuthera is inhabited by a population of about 11,000 residents. When there is no ship in port, Princess Cays has a population of two – the onsite managers who live on the property.
Princess Cruise Line runs excursions to some of the smaller villages outside the complex, such as Rock Sound known for its bottomless blow hole. The ocean hole is a perplexing natural phenomenon because even though the ocean is a mile away, the rock formation is filled with seawater that appears to ebb and flow with the tides.
Day 6: ‘Mocktails’ are fun part of Princess soft drink package on the Regal Princess
The motto of Princess Cruises is “Come Back New.” The pleasure of “mocktails” is something new that will be coming back home with me.
I had never had a mocktail until my Regal Princess cruise. As the name implies, the drink is a cocktail but without alcohol. And it was part of my soft drink package on Regal Princess.
Cruise ships that charge inflated fees for soft drinks is a pet peeve of mine. My caffeine of choice is cola, Pepsi preferably, which most cruise ships don’t carry. It irks me to pay almost $3 for a small can of Coke or to buy a cruise-long soft drink package at a hefty charge.
But the beverage deal on the Regal Princess isn’t bad. In fact, I like the extras that come with the Unlimited Soda & More Package. The “more” seem to make it worthwhile.
When passengers board many big cruise ships, they will notice tables set up at visible spots selling beverage deals for the length of the cruise. If you are much of a drinker, the unlimited booze deals might be worth it but not for me.
On the Regal Princess, for example, passengers can buy an All-Inclusive Beverage Package. For a fee of $49 per person per day, plus a 15 percent gratuity, a passenger can enjoy any alcoholic-beverage costing up to $12 on the bar menu, including cocktails, wine and beer. The deal also includes bottled water, tea, sodas and specialty coffees.
If you plan to enjoy several cocktails, beer or wine during the day and evening, this might be a good deal. Plus, that bottled water is a nice addition. It’s always good to take water when going ashore and to keep it around to remind yourself to stay hydrated on a cruise.
What I picked was the Unlimited Soda & More Package which totaled $56.35 for my weeklong cruise. So, I drink a Coke for breakfast and one for lunch. How can that be a worthwhile package? On most ships, it isn’t.
However, this Unlimited Soda & More Package really does offer more for your buck. The package includes fountain sodas, mocktails, fruit smoothies and hot chocolate, plus a large insulated plastic Princess glass with a sturdy lid and straw.
Because of the program’s popularity, the ship on our cruise ran out of the insulated glasses so we received two large bottles of water instead ($3.95 each). Fine with me. I have so many insulated glasses at home that I don’t need another one. The complimentary water I put in my cabin fridge to drink throughout the cruise.
If passengers didn’t like not getting the insulated cup, they could cancel the Unlimited Soda & More Package. I didn’t hear that anyone had picked that option.
Mocktails are cocktails without alcohol
It’s the mocktails that were a surprise and I am sure I will order quite a few on this cruise. Maybe they sound yucky – a cocktail without liquor? – but they are quite good.
My first night, I found my favorite early evening spot on the second deck in the Piazza, listened to the band and ordered a mocktail mojito. Very minty and refreshing. Later I tried a mocktail margarita. Also delicious. The next evening I had a mocktail pina colada. All were surprisingly tasty and they look pretty. The bartender said he can turn any cocktail into a mocktail so I’ll see what he can do during my cruise.
I thought the bartenders might just dump a few fruit juices and some kind of seltzer in those mocktails. They don’t. What you get looks like the real thing with the little garnishes and tastes just as good to me.
As for the Piazza, it is really a hopping place. So far, the beautiful three-deck tall Piazza has hosted line dancing classes, a piano player, band, singer, comedian, classical musicians, games and more. The dance floor is quite popular for couples dancing in the evening.
I don’t know if anyone else is drinking mocktails on this cruise. But, then again, I don’t think anyone knows that the cold drink in front of me is all fluff and no alcohol. Fun drinks I have never had before.
Day 7: Regal Princess: Book ship excursion tours to enjoy St. Thomas
The young honeymooners on our cruise carried their tote bags, wore their swimming suits and were ready for a day on a balmy beach.
However, the couple hadn’t done their homework. They expected to step off the ship and walk to a nearby beach, much as they had done when we stopped at Princess Cays and took tenders to the island. That’s not the way it is on St. Thomas.
Sure, the island is home to one of the world’s best beaches – Magens Bay, as selected by National Geographic magazine. But Magens Bay is about a half-hour away from the ship dock. Another lovely beach, Trunk Bay on St. John, is about a 30-minute ferry ride away.
Docking is easy at St. Thomas. The Regal Princess docks near the long walk where passengers can stroll to meeting places for shore excursions or can spend time in the countless shops. Little else is available within easy walking distance.
Unless you want to spend your time in shopping hell where the ship docks, it’s best to peruse the shore excursions before you even begin your cruise. Taxis and shuttles are available at the dock but it is wiser to book a shore excursion with Regal Princess.
Since our ship was in St. Thomas from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., there was plenty of time to enjoy one of the many excursions offered by the Regal Princess.
Wealth of St. Thomas shore excursions
During our day in St. Thomas, the Regal Princess offered snorkeling and diving, a day at Magens Bay, seeing sea creatures at Coral World Marine Park, touring Blackbeard’s Castle, and driving to Mountain Top – a totally rebuilt mecca on top of a mountain which is said to be the birthplace of the famous banana daiquiri. Plus much more.
St. Thomas has always been a favorite cruise ship stop. The weather is close to perfect with year-round temperatures ranging from 73 to 89, depending on sea breezes.
Although Christopher Columbus landed here in 1493, he wasn’t impressed and didn’t even stake a claim. Spain’s loss was pirate’s gain and the island soon became a haven for notorious buccaneers. Blackbeard wasn’t the only pirate to seek refuge on St. Thomas. Bluebeard was a frequent visitor too. Today, tourists have replaced pirates.
Day 8: Alfredo’s offers great food and quiet dining spot on the Regal Princess
When I walked up to the entry desk at Alfredo’s, the hostess asked if I would like a table by the window. As a solo passenger, I have often found that some cruise lines don’t want to waste a premium window table on one person.
So, this was a pleasant question. And the view of the ocean outside my window was a wonderful complement to my meal.
At first glance, I thought Alfredo’s was one of those pay-extra-to-eat-here restaurants on the Regal Princess. But it isn’t.Alfredo’s is a surprisingly quiet dining spot with great ocean views and delicious food. If the menu changed a couple times during my cruise, I might have eaten lunch here every day. However, it is the same menu for the entire cruise.
As it is, I have eaten lunch here my first two days at sea and am now beginning to see other passengers choose Alfredo’s as well. Perhaps, they also had thought Alfredo’s had an additional charge or maybe they were happily dining at the huge Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro on an upper deck by the swimming pool.
Located near the Piazza on Deck six midship, Alfredo’s is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The décor is elegant but casual and comfortable. Circular booths and tables and chairs are spaced far enough apart for a bit of privacy.
Delicious dining choices
The menu, of course, is Italian and you can see the chefs working behind a glass partition at one end of the dining room. The menu offers a small choice of appetizers, entrees and desserts. The appetizer was so good that I enjoyed it again the next day.
The Antipasto Assortito di Magro was a yummy combo of mozzarella cheese, grilled zucchini, tomatoes and roasted red and yellow peppers, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and basil sauce.
Named Rollata di Merazaone, my entrée was baked rolled eggplant stuffed with angel hair pasta, mozzarella cheese and topped with cherry tomatoes and basil sauce. It was great. In addition, Alfredo’s offers a nice variety of thin-crust pizza. Two of the most popular, my server said, are the Pizza Hawaiian with ham, pineapple and chicken, and the Pizza Regal Princess with ham, Parmesan and cherry tomatoes.
For my second day lunch, I picked the pepperoni pizza, brimming with pepperoni and cheese. The Regal Princess also serves pizza at Prego Pizzeria on Deck 16. Prego’s pizza was good but nowhere near the quality of Alfredo’s.
Prego Pizzeria is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. near the swimming pool. I’ve seen passengers enjoying that pizza from the time it opens to the time it closes. I’ve had the pepperoni pizza there at movie time and it was handy to walk up and get a slice of pizza immediately.
I already know that, regardless of where I eat on the Regal Princess, I am going to go home with some extra weight that seems to be a souvenir of every happy voyage.
Day 9: New ‘Born to Dance’ show on the Regal Princess spotlights talented dancers
When the new stage show “Born to Dance” began in the Regal Princess theater, the woman seated next to me whispered, “I don’t know who any of those people are.”
That is part of the reason for “Born to Dance” – to feature the high-kicking and often hardly-known hoofers. Without them, stars would have no one to dance in front of, no one to provide background for the main performers.
Video interviews with well-known dancers were shown on the big screen as ship dancers performed in front of the screen. Among the long-time dancers interviewed about the show business profession were Mary Ann Lamb, Ann Reinking and Rachelle Rak.
I knew Reinking because of her long affiliation with Bob Fosse. I remembered Rak as a dancer in the “Cats” national touring company. But as for the rest of the dancers being interviewed, I had no clue.
The multi-media show has an awesome pedigree. It was produced by Oscar, Grammy and Tony award winner Stephen Schwartz, who composed “Wicked,” “Godspell” and “Pippin.”
The show spotlights a who’s-who of acclaimed choreographers and dancers to trace the journey of the great artists and shows that made musical theater history.
Arrive early for good seat
The theater was packed when I arrived after dinner for the 8 p.m. production. Many passengers had gotten there long before show time to be sure of getting a good seat.
The show also was presented at 10 p.m. and I heard it was standing-room-only as well. Although a recurring announcement requested that passengers not save seats for late arrivals, the practice was widely done anyway. I really don’t know what ship staff could do to prevent that but it did cause grumbling among passengers who couldn’t get empty seats that were being saved for last-minute arrivals.
The show ran about 50 minutes with many costume and scenery changes. Starting with a video clip shown on a large screen backdrop, we watched a young man head to a Broadway dance stage. Then the action became live on the ship’s stage to give a glimpse of what it takes to be a dancer – including all the highs as well as the lows.
The show also celebrates theater’s most iconic choreographers and chronicles the progression of choreography from Broadway’s early days to today. Great choreographers featured included Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille, Bob Fosse, Gower Champion, Michael Bennett, Twyla Tharp and Jerry Mitchell.
Dances from some of Broadway’s favorite hits included “West Side Story,” “A Chorus Line,” “Chicago,” “Oklahoma!” and more.
Professional dance career often difficult
The career of a professional dancer is often short lived and filled with injuries, dancers said. Rak said she’s got the scars to prove it. Hip, rib and nose injuries and more broken heels than she can count.
Dancing professionally, whether on Broadway or aboard the Regal Princess, requires years of training and immense discipline. On our cruise, the cast of the show included four singers and a dozen dancers from around the world.
The end of the show introduced each of the Regal Princess dancers, giving their names and allowing them to step from the group to get their solo turn in the limelight.
Every ship dancer got a huge round of applause for being “born to dance” and for sharing their talents to entertain us on our cruise.
Day 10: Movies are lovely part of the Regal Princess’ ship entertainment
The moon watched from the night sky and the waves crashed below as Winnie the Pooh faced the sad reality of a grownup Christopher Robin.
But we weren’t sitting in some movie theater watching the popular 2018 film. And those weren’t make-believe waves we were hearing.
We were snuggled in deck lounge chairs with warm blankets and freshly popped corn on the top deck of the Regal Princess somewhere in the Caribbean.
That huge screen by the ship swimming pool is getting a lot of use. During the day, we’ll be seeing concerts by performers like Lady Antebellum, Sheryl Crow, Rolling Stones, Billy Joel and many more.
When we boarded the ship, our daily Princess Patter schedule had a listing of the movie highlights we would see in Movie Under the Stars and in the Vista Lounge on Deck 7 aft.
Movies we will be seeing include:
Christopher Robin (2018|
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
The Greatest Showman (2017)
The Wife (2017)
Cirque de Soliel
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
The Vista Lounge on Deck 7 aft also shows movies. The lounge is large and comfortable with tables for drinks and a big screen to enjoy all the action. Unlike Movies Under the Stars, the Vista Lounge lights can be dimmed for better movie viewing.
Big-screen movies and concerts are only part of the Regal Princess entertainment. In the Princess Theatre on Decks 6 and 7, we can see evening performances of comedian Robbie Printz plus singers and musicians.
Two big music productions in the Princess Theater are productions of “Sweet Soul Music” and “Born to Dance,” as well as an evening with the award-winning Beatlemaniacs – four guys who put on a concert that may have happened for the Beatles. The Fab Four change outfits and wigs and do look like the Beatles they are supposed to be representing. All four seem to be talented singers and musicians and the visual backdrops add to the experience of actually being at a Beatles concert.
Never a lack of entertainment on the Regal Princess.
Day 11: Regal Princess: the ‘Love Boat’ connection
Leaving the port of St. Thomas in the Caribbean, people on shore began applauding. I think their appreciation was not so much for what they saw – although the Regal Princess is a beauty – but for what they heard.
The horn on the Regal Princess plays the theme song from the “Love Boat,” the 1970s-television show that helped make Princess Cruises a household name. Airing on ABC from 1977 to 1986, “Love Boat” was set on the Princess’ Pacific Princess.
The musical touch of whimsy is only one of the “Love Boat” salutes around the ship. After all, the godparents for the Regal Princess are the main cast from the popular show.
A special exhibit case on the Regal Princess showcases the ship’s November 2014 naming ceremony. For the Regal Princess christening, all six of the original cast members served as the ship’s godparents and were joined by 25 of the show’s past guest stars.
The photo display I saw on the Regal Princess celebrated that special day when the six “Love Boat” cast members – Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Lauren Tewes (cruise director, Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain’s daughter) – pulled a lever that first sent a record-breaking fifty champagne bottles smashing against the ship’s hull.
That huge splash was a nod to the company’s anniversary celebration. It was followed by the breaking of a giant Nebuchadnezzar-size 51st bottle signifying Princess Cruises’ continued future success. The photo display also has the bow and cork from that champagne send-off.
TV show popularized cruising
The popular television show is credited with showing viewers how much fun a cruise can be and what a great vacation choice it is to book a journey on a modern cruise ship. “Love Boat” is said to be a major reason for the dramatic expansion of today’s cruise industry. And it all started more than 50 years ago on a Princess ship.
The story goes that in the mid-70s, TV producer Douglas S. Cramer decided to film a series, not in a studio setting but aboard the beautiful environs of a modern cruise ship. Cramer found the ideal setting on a Princess cruise ship. Cramer teamed up with Aaron Spelling and the movie pilot was shot aboard the Princess ship in Mexico. For 10 seasons, “The Love Boat” was one of the highest rated prime time television shows in the country.
Later episodes and specials were filmed aboard many other Princess cruise ships in destinations around the globe.
Before long, viewers began looking forward to seeing the big star of the show – a Princess cruise ship – and booking their own voyages. Today, Princess continues to be known as the “Love Boat” line.
“People always ask us why ‘The Love Boat’ was so popular and I always say it’s because it gave people something to dream about,” Gavin MacLeod said in a press release celebrating the ship/show partnership.
“They could dream about being out on the open seas on a cruise and discovering the worlds’ greatest destinations, dreaming about love and, of course, happy endings since the shows always ended on a high note. I’m proud to have played a role in the growth of the cruise industry.”
‘Love Boat’ lives on
The original “Love Boat” series is currently in worldwide syndication, having been translated into more than 29 different languages, and is viewed by millions of fans in more than 93 countries.
Another “Love Boat” touch I enjoyed on my cruise was a special cocktail created by the show’s bartender extraordinaire Isaac. Fittingly, the sweet concoction is named “The Isaac.”
“Most people don’t know that while I was serving up drinks on the Love Boat, I also became a licensed bartender in real life,” actor Ted Lange said in a press release announcing the drink.
“If a bartender recognizes me, he or she always wants me to try their special drink,” Lange said. “Now, I’m excited for everyone to try my special drink and I know they are going to love it. Like the song says, ‘Come aboard, the Isaac’s waiting for you.’”
The refreshing love potion includes white rum as a salute to Lange’s favorite cruise destination – the Caribbean. Pomegranate syrup channels the famous red jacket Lange’s character wore. And two pineapple leaves as garnish are a tribute to his character’s two-finger signature point.
The new drink is being served on all Princess cruise ships. But if you aren’t lucky enough to be on a Princess cruise, here is Lange’s special recipe to enjoy “The Isaac” at home.
2 ounces white rum
2 ounces pomegranate syrup
½ ounce fresh lime juice
Splash of club soda
2 pineapple leaf spears
Preparation: Fill highball glass with 2/3 ice or desired amount of ice. Into a cocktail shaker, add ice, white rum, pomegranate syrup and lime juice. Shake and strain into highball glass, filling just to the top of the ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with a fresh lime slice and two pineapple spears.
Story and photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch