Are you thinking of a Princess Cruise but can’t decide if it’s a good fit for you? Well I’m here to give you the lowdown on my experience aboard the Regal Princess and help you determine whether a cruise on Princess is right for you!

I recently traveled on Regal Princess on the Southern Caribbean Medley. It was a ten day cruise to some epic destinations in the Caribbean and took place over New Years, which was a blast. It was also my first cruise on the Regal Princess, and it’s one of the most beautiful ships I’ve encountered.

I’ve reflected on my experience on the Regal Princess below, including some insights that will help you make the most of your Princess cruise. I’ve also included a section on whether a cruise with Princess is right for you.

What a Princess Cruise is really like

Here are my observations about my trip on the Regal Princess so you can decide whether a Princess Cruise is right for you.

The ship is stunning

You can spend hours looking at all the photos of the Regal Princess you can find before your cruise, but once you step into the Piazza on embarkation day it’s impossible not to be impressed. Lots of marble, gold accents, and high design touches are everywhere you look. It’s gorgeous. See for yourself in our photo tour of the Regal Princess.

Everything feels fresh and well-maintained as well. The Regal Princess has been on the water since 2014, making it the youngest in the Princess fleet at the time of our cruise – and it isn’t showing wear and tear.

Free food is plentiful (and pretty good)

There was so much food on the Regal Princess from morning to night. It literally never ends, so expect to be well fed on any Princess cruise.

The buffet has a huge breakfast selection every morning and the main dining rooms offer a sit down breakfast with classic dishes like Eggs Benedict. But more often than not we went to the International Cafe for a tasty pastry and a espresso. We did the room service breakfast once due to convenience but weren’t blown away by it. 

Though we were usually in port for lunch, we often just grabbed a quick bite at the buffet like nachos or tacos when we were lounging at the pool on sea days. There’s also the Poolside Grill for pizza and burgers if you’re craving a snack but don’t want to venture too far from your pool chairs, and a soft-serve ice cream station for a sweet treat. The Main Dining Rooms offer a full sit-down lunch and a pub lunch is served in the Wheelhouse Bar on sea days. 

We opted for Anytime Dining and ate most dinners in one of the main dining rooms around 8ish. I had heard SO much about the food on the Regal Princess that I was really expecting a lot. I found it good for the most part, but some of the dishes in the main dining rooms were stuck in the 80s and were loaded with salt. Although I consider myself a foodie, I’m not one to complain about mediocre food. I will say that there were a few standout dishes in the main dining rooms including the Surf & Turf and Farfalle alla Rustica. But most of the time it felt too rich and overly heavy. 

One more downside of the main dining rooms on Regal Princess that I experienced: they were unbelievably busy. There were lines for most of the dinner service, and it seemed uncoordinated. It was over the holiday and the cruise at capacity, but it annoyed many passengers. On one particular evening, the Maitre D yelled to the line of hungry waiting guests that he wouldn’t have another table for 45 minutes, which didn’t go over well. They did have a waiting list with buzzers so you could head somewhere else to wait until a table was ready for you. While I wouldn’t let that get you down, I would strongly recommend either going before you’re absolutely ravished or opting for Traditional Dining if you enjoy consistency.

By day four I was craving salad so spent a few nights just going to the buffet, which was top notch. I’m not a buffet person (I’ve had many bad experiences) but the one on the Regal Princess was a treat. There’s an enormous array of food so it’s pretty much impossible not to find something you want to eat – I promise! We’d often go around sunset and take our food out to eat on the Horizon Terrace by the Outrigger Bar.

We also ate a couple of times at the Italian pizzeria, Alfredos – including for lunch on embarkation day, which I highly recommend over the buffet. I had heard from a few folks that the quality of the pizza here had gone downhill but luckily I didn’t find that to be the case. The antipasti starters were delicious and the individual pizzas were the perfect size. The service was also excellent. 

Oh and then there’s room service – available 24/7 for free. Though there are a several things on the menu that have an added fee. The standard room service fare like club sandwiches and chicken fingers.

The specialty restaurants are worth the splurge

We tried two of the specialty restaurants on the Regal Princess: The Crown Grill and Sabitinis. We were super impressed with both and felt that the surcharge ($29 and $25 per person respectively) for both was completely reasonable for the quality (and the quantity) of food. 

The Crown Grill is a popular dining spot on the Regal Princess for good reason. I loved everything about this steakhouse from the dark classic setting to the unparalleled service. And the food – oh the food! Classic starters like beef tartare and french onion soup are an ideal start and the prime cuts of beef are cooked to perfection and served with a selection of artisan salts. Although there’s a lot of food, it’s nearly impossible to stop eating as it’s just that good. My pro tip: eat light that day.

We dined at Sabitinis on our last night and it was relatively quiet with less than half of the tables occupied. Everything we ate was excellent from the freshly baked bread and the burrata to the porchetta and handmade pappardelle. The dessert menu looked epic as well, with a quad of Norman Love chocolate treats, but I literally could not eat another thing. 

The drink prices aren’t outrageous

I found the drink prices on our Princess cruise to be lower than other cruise lines like Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, but I still found ways to get the most bang for our booze buck. And from what I saw, most people didn’t have the Premium Beverage Package – us included. I mulled over whether we should bite the bullet and get it, but ultimately wasn’t convinced it was worth it for the nearly $1,400 USD price tag. Instead, we were strategic and spent less than half of that amount. 

We each brought a bottle of wine on board (that we bought at the Total Liquor store in Fort Lauderdale near the port) as Princess allows you one bottle without a $15 corkage charge. On our first day at lunch we bought the wine package. You can choose between 7, 10 and 12 bottles in two categories:

Silver Package (wines up to $29 per bottle list price)

7 bottles — $161 (average of $23 per bottle), 10 bottles — $210 (average of $21 per bottle), 12 bottles — $240 (average of $20 per bottle)

Gold Package (wines up to $45 per bottle list price)

7 bottles — $217 (average of $31 per bottle), 10 bottles — $290 (average of $29 per bottle), 12 bottles — $336 (average of $28 per bottle)

Don’t forget the 15% gratuity added on top, as is the case for any beverage purchased on board.

We opted for 7 bottles with the Gold Package, which was perfect for our 10 day cruise. We have no problem polishing off a bottle of wine at dinner, but sometimes would leave half in the cellar for the next evening. 

The Regal Princess has 2 for 1 happy hour twice daily (3-4pm and 10-11pm), which we took advantage of. I’ve heard that Princess has ended this on some of their ships, but it was still a popular feature on the Regal and Royal when we sailed. We would buy two drinks for the price of one (+ $1) and bring them up to our room if we wanted to keep for later (the best options for this tactic are martinis, scotch, or Grolsch as the pop-top can be resealed). 

As we’re at the Elite loyalty level, we got a free mini-bar set-up as part of our cruise. We switched most of the stuff out for gin (love our G&Ts!) and it lasted us longer than I expected. This is a wonderful perk of being a loyal Princess cruise guest. 

If you’re not at the top loyalty level yet, you can always pay for the minibar options, or order a larger bottle from room service. We didn’t end up doing this as we were sufficiently stocked with all of the above, but it was an option I was ready to deploy if necessary. A 375mL bottle of Gin (or Bourbon, Vodka, Rum, or Scotch) starts at $17.25. You could make six hearty doubles with that, which would come out to less than $3 per drink. If you want tonic or soda, either bring some on board with you at embarkation or consider the soda package. 

Exercise isn’t a chore

After all that talk about imbibing to excess, let’s talk about getting healthy. The gym on the Regal Princess is on par with a five star hotel. I loved the treadmills facing the water, though admittedly found myself watching the TV instead of gazing out at the horizon. The cardio equipment has screens with games and challenges that actually makes exercise fun – or at least more tolerable. 

Another great workout is running or walking the outdoor track. If you feel like working off last night’s gorge fest, why not do so in the most idyllic setting overlooking the ocean?

And finally there’s Zumba, which is perhaps the most fun exercise on board. Two classes are offered daily on the Sports Deck (for free!) and it’s a great way to energize yourself for the day.

Clientele is loyal & mature

Princess is often labeled as an older persons cruise line – it’s one of the most frequent things I hear from clients. Given its history, price point, and amenities, a Princess cruise definitely appeals to a refined, more mature traveler. But it’s not stuffy. Younger cruisers won’t feel completely out of place on a Princess cruise, particularly if they enjoy a luxury experience over a party atmosphere. 

Princess has tremendously loyal customers. During our cruise there were so many high status guests that three Captain’s Circle parties were required to honour them all. It’s a tribute to Princess’ quality and how much the cruise line is beloved by its guests. The Captain’s Circle loyalty program has excellent rewards for repeat guests so it definitely pays to keep cruising with Princess.

Less family friendly – except during holidays

Building on the point above, Princess is not the most family-friendly cruise line. Every cruise line has a defined target audience and there are several that cater to families with activities specifically for kids like water slides and climbing walls, which Princess does not have. However, that doesn’t mean that families won’t enjoy a Princes cruise. There are three kids programs (3-7, 9-12, and 13-17) offered with dynamic programming.

During holidays, the percentage of kids on board spikes. There were tons of families with children and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves. In speaking with staff, I discovered that there were nearly nearly 500 youth onboard registered with the kids & teens programs. 

The staff are wonderful

All around the staff on Princess cruises are lovely. We had superb service everywhere we went from every staff member we interacted with. The crew in Crooners were always welcoming and passing us extra honey roasted peanuts and the bartenders during happy hour in Club 6 were a ton of fun as well. And none of the interactions felt fake or forced, but truly genuine. I could go on and on about this, but all you need to know is that the Princess team are service oriented and respectful. 

The Retreat Pool is lovely – but packed

As on any ship, sea days are absurdly busy by the pool. While you may be able to snag a seat or two around the main pool, it’s always difficult to find a spot by the adults only Retreat Pool. Heading up at 7:30 am to find every single seat covered with a towel but not a single person in sight is a major bummer. If you want to splurge on sea day, consider renting one of the poolside cabanas for the day for $80 or $50 for a half day. 

The only grumpy passengers I encountered during the cruise were by the pool. I saw three separate fights emerge over chairs in one day, and clearly people get really heated about saving chairs. Although I wouldn’t personally make a scene, I can’t stand when people save pool chairs and then disappear for hours, like this guy who flipped out when he came back hours later to find someone else in his chair. Even though he was told that the pool attendants had removed his towels after a downpour, he was still furious at the people who had the audacity to sit in his (empty) chairs. 

Consider the Sanctuary if you want peace & quiet

Just off of the retreat pool is the Sanctuary, an adults-only area that’s meant to be the ultimate in relaxation. You reserve specific chairs that are all yours (no fighting with chair hogs!) for a half-day, full day or even the full cruise. The spa like setting features dedicated stewards, infused waters and mists, and a special healthy menu in case you get peckish. The padded chairs are ultra comfortable (a few of them are doubles) and the large cabanas are luxurious with couches, televisions and privacy shades. The Sanctuary costs $20 half day and $40 full day per person and is available on most Princess cruise ships.

Princess Live is a bit of a letdown

Princess Live is where all of the trivia and games happen. It’s essentially a television studio with theatre seating. All of the gameshow activities are filmed here and then available on your stateroom TV, perfect for a laugh while you’re getting ready or heading off to sleep. 

My issue with Princess Live isn’t the programming, it’s the venue. It feels removed and it’s easy to miss something fun happening unless you’re keeping up with your Princess Patter (take a look at our cruises’s Patters here). And while I enjoy watching a good Marriage Match game or Majority Rules, I honestly only went to Princess Live once – for the muster drill. I’ve heard that the venue makes it particularly difficult for group trivia. 

Evening Entertainment is worth staying up for

One of our favourite post-dinner spots was the casino. It’s not massive but it’s well laid out and immaculately maintained. The people watching here is second to none with high-rollers betting it all on the tables. The slot machines are super modern and only accept your cruise card as payment. You can load money on directly from the slot machines, but be careful not to get carried away!

There are shows every evening in the Princess Theatre at 8pm and 10pm. The line-up when we were there included a comedian and a number of musical acts including a Uptown musical show, pop opera, and a magician. While I heard anecdotally that they were good, we never actually made it to a show. There wasn’t anything that was particularly appealing, and we were usually eating dinner between 8:30 and 9:30, and enjoyed wandering around the piazza or casino afterwards. That being said, I would’ve made it if they had featured Broadway calibre shows offered on other cruise lines. 

We often went to the evening Happy Hour, which was held from 10 to 11pm in Club 6 – when we could stay up. Club 6 a busy spot starting once Happy Hour begins and becomes party central into the early hours. There’s a dance floor and a DJ, and a good mix of people having fun.

Movies Under the Stars is fun

If you’re not up for drinks and dancing in Club 6, head up to the Lido Deck for the nightly Movies Under the Stars. Pool chairs are topped with comfy cushions and blankets to keep you warm. Popcorn is on offer as well as you settle in to watch a new release film. Your daily Princess patter will let you know what’s playing each night.

Ocean Medallion is intriguing

Ocean Medallion is Carnival (Princess’ parent company) foray into digital. Managed by the same people who introduced Disney’s electronic Fast Pass, the wearable medallion not only replaces your key card, it also helps personalize your cruise experience. 

It was just being rolled out on the Regal Princess when we were on board. Only a selection of passengers were part of the program on our cruise, along with several Ocean Medallion staff to oversee the launch. Everyone on our cruise had access to Medallion Net, apparently the fastest internet at sea, regardless of whether they had Ocean Medallion. I’m happy to report that the internet on the Regal Princess was the best I’ve experienced on any cruise ship.

Ocean Medallion is only set up on the Regal Princess but it’s intended to roll-out on other ships over the next few years. While Princess is still working out the kinks and it has yet to rolled out fleet wide, Ocean Medallion is poised to be a game changer.

The TV and movies are great

Okay so I spent far more time hanging out in my room than I’d like to admit. From leisurely mornings in bed to dessert under the covers, I had the television on way more than I thought I would. But my main point – the tv content on Princess is the best. I’ve been on other cruise lines where the only things worth watching were the bridge cam and the out of date port guides. Not the case on a Princess cruise – we had access to a wide range of movies from new releases to classics, all on a high quality screen. I didn’t feel at all guilty catching up on some of the best new movies.

The check-in (from FLL) is a breeze

We arrived at Fort Lauderdale at 11am (ignoring the 2pm time that was printed on our boarding passes) and were onboard within 20 minutes. I was amazed. There was a dedicated line for Ocean Medallion passengers, which we weren’t, that apparently gets you onboard even faster. And one of the best things was that our room was available immediately. Such a perk! 

Staterooms are spacious

While I love a balcony stateroom, we opted for an interior room on the Regal Princess. We were on Baja (Deck 11) in one of the ‘sideways’ interior rooms. These rooms are flipped from the other rooms, but offer more space than traditional interior staterooms. It was perfect for us. There was a ton of space: bedside tables, a huge desk with lots of drawers, and a massive closet area. It felt more spacious than standard balcony rooms I’ve had on other ships. I was really impressed and didn’t at all feel claustrophobic without windows or a balcony. I wouldn’t hesitate to book an inside stateroom again on a Princess cruise.

You can find your own personal space

Even with 3,500+ other passengers, there are many spots to escape the crowds. I recommend exploring on your first day – both inside and outside of the ship – to find your special place. While definitely not undiscovered, we enjoyed the low-key vibes of the Terrace Pool at the back (aft) of the ship on Deck 17 and reading or playing cards in the Wheelhouse Bar. And our absolute favourite spot was watching the sunset nightly at the Outrigger Bar as we pulled away from port.

The laundry is a godsend

Princes cruises offers laundry and dry cleaning services but also have a DIY option. Self-serve laundry facilities are located on each deck with staterooms. For a small fee ($3 last time I checked) you can wash your own clothing in the washer and dryer, purchasing detergent from a vending machine. It’s nearly impossible on a ten day or longer cruise to get by on one suitcase of clothing so having options for laundry is super helpful. 

People get dressed up

Princess is definitely a fancier cruise line than some others. For example you can’t wear shorts in the main dining rooms. On a Princess cruise it’s not at all uncommon to see tuxes and ballgowns on formal nights or holidays – like New Years, as we observed. But you have the choice of staying casual and for the most part, no one is judgemental on whether you get decked out or keep it casual. 

It’s great for multi-generational families

There were tons of multi-generational groups on my recent Princess cruise. It was really apparent how great  the cruise line is for large family groups of all ages as there’s really something for everyone. The Regal Princess is large enough that everyone gets their alone time but can come together for dinner and activities when they wish. It’s a wonderful family vacation where no one has to sacrifice their enjoyment for the rest of the group.

Is a Princess Cruise right for you?

Is this your first time on a cruise?

It can be a tad overwhelming trying to figure out which cruise line will be right for you. For my clients wanting to go on their first cruise, I always ask them about resort travel they’ve done in the past, focusing on what they liked and disliked. If clients gravitate toward resorts that offer excellent service and luxury touches while enjoying the energy and activities of larger properties, then a Princess cruise will probably be a good match. Though if they’re looking for a non-stop party and epic entertainment, it’ll likely be a letdown. In my opinion, Princess is a premium product made mainstream, which is how I describe it to clients. 

At the end of the day, I do believe that there’s a cruise line for everyone, but it might take a few tries until you find the perfect one for you. Keep trying until you find the one that fits.

Have you cruised other lines before?

If this isn’t your first cruise but you haven’t sailed Princess before, reflect on what you loved and/or hated about your other experiences. Were there too many kids and you’re empty nesters? Did you yearn for higher quality food? Then a Princess cruise could fit the bill.

Many of my clients come to me wanting to try out a new cruise line because they know someone who swears by it. Firsthand advice is always great but I ask them to think about what they have in common with this other person – interests, travel styles, budget, etc – and have a conversation with them about why they recommend that cruise line, if possible. It’s important to vet recommendations before taking the leap as everyone’s experiences and expectations differ.

Pick the right ship

Princess has different classes of ships that offer their own travel experience. The Royal Class (Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess) are larger and offer a greater variety of activities and dining options. For a more intimate experience, the Pacific Princess is a beloved ship with loyal passengers while the Coral Princess, which sits somewhere in the middle of both extremes, is a favourite for sailing the Panama Canal. Each ship has it’s own unique vibe that will appeal to different travellers, and it’s not uncommon for frequent passengers to love one Princess ship and dislike others. Before pulling the trigger on a Princess cruise, familiarize yourself with the ships to ensure you’re making the right choice for you.

Choose the right itinerary

A lot of times clients choose an itinerary and take the cruise line that offers it. Unless it’s a unique experience like Celebrity’s Galapagos or Norwegian’s Hawaiian islands, cruise lines visit most of the same places. Do you have any bucket list islands? Are you interested in visiting larger cities or small towns? Do you want a good balance of destinations and sea days or back to back ports?

One of the most important elements in choosing an itinerary is how long it’ll be. Princess Cruises range from a few days to six month round the world adventure. I have clients who think seven days is just right while others need two weeks to really feel they got a vacation.

Select the right room

Clients always ask me what room category they should choose, and it’s not an easy question to answer. I often get questions whether balconies and suites are worth it, and my reply is it depends. I’ve stayed in inside rooms (like on my Regal Princess experience) and balcony rooms and I’ve enjoyed both.

Ultimately it comes down to how you want to travel. Do you envision yourself sitting out on the balcony every evening watching the sunset or partaking in happy hour with friends at one of the onboard bars? Do you want the added amenities that a suite or club class provides like an exclusive dining area and priority tenders or is that not something you think you’ll get value out of?

My final word of advice on this – book the room category you want. Don’t assume that you’ll get upgraded at embarkation as it’s highly unlikely. I’ve had clients that have been offered a better room within the same category but never a full step upgrade from what they booked, like interior to balcony.

Have you been on a Princess Cruise before and have your own observations?

Princess Cruise photos by JP Bervoets