It’s been a full month since I left behind life on the Regal Princess, and I can say with much conviction that I miss it. I had mixed expectations going into the trip—mostly fear of the great wide open—but everything changed once I stepped on board. In today’s post, I’m going to take you step by step on every turn of our trip, from the excitement of embarkation to the homesickness I felt for our little stateroom the moment we checked out.
Since cruising had never been on my personal radar until Princess Cruises invited me to experience their eastern Caribbean 7-day itinerary, I realized I had never thought about what it would take to get on a cruise ship. If you’re as curious as I am, you want as much information as possible before you commit yourself to a new adventure (as such, this post is not for experienced cruisers…you may find the details a bit of a yawn). However, as soon as we drove up to the port, I felt a flash of coastal familiarity. Growing up in Seattle, I’m no stranger to ports and docks and big ocean rigs lined up along the coastline. My dad has always been a seaman. However, I’d never seen anything as big as the Regal Princess anchored in a marina before. Standing next to it, you feel like less than a peanut shell. It’s unfathomably large. My first thought was along the lines of how-in-the-world-do-you-get-an-airplane-in-the-air…how could this thing possibly float?
Our shuttle dropped us off around the corner from the customs entrance, which was actually kind of a cluster. We filled out medical forms before finding a desk agent to check us in, but from there we were given key cards and a map of the 19-deck ship and sent to walk the plank. (Fine, it was more of a gangway, straight into what felt like a little cubby door in the side of the ship.)
Embarkation day is madness. We had to wait a thousand years for an elevator because my mom and I are nice people and let the forty-five million old people that were on the ship go first. That was one thing I was expecting on board—most of the cruisers were retired and experts at life on board. However, we felt right at home when we made it to our stateroom.
I could write a whole chapter of a book on what it feels like to stand on the balcony and look out over the endless blue of the Atlantic. What I thought was going to be the most frightening element of my trip ended up being my favorite. I loved watching the wake flutter along the back of the ship. I wondered how many sea creatures were chilling out below the surface and might be aware of our passing. I wondered at how many knots we were traveling (usually about 18, according to Captain Perrin) or how far away the nearest ship might be sailing (we actually passed quite a few cruise ships that were in clear view and almost within earshot).
The ship moved more than I anticipated. We learned towards the end of the voyage that there were a few uncommon factors in play, one of them being a day and a half we were traveling at full speed to deliver a passenger to emergency medical services at Turks and Caicos! The speed caused a substantial amount of rocking, but it tended not to bother me. There were days I felt it more than others, but it was not much more than a moment of dizziness. I felt it most when I was off the ship in my own bed on land. My body was so used to the waves that it didn’t stop feeling them for two days following. Sounds miserable, but I loved it. It was comforting and helped with the homesickness I was feeling for the Regal Princess.
Our quarters were modern and tidy and roomier than we expected. There are several variations of staterooms onboard, from inside rooms to balcony suites, and we were assigned something in the middle. It was nice to have the desk space for jewelry and accessory storage, but I would say that’s something of a luxury if you’re trying to stay within a certain budget. I’d be down to experience a room with just a porthole, but coming off of this balcony experience, I highly recommend going with a room that will let you escape into fresh air whenever your heart desires.
The food was exactly what I expected. Princess flies in five-star chefs from all over the world to design their menus and prepare meals for all passengers. You can eat as much as you want while you sit there—it’s all paid for with your trip—and it’s always worth saying yes to dessert. As a vegetarian, I experienced several different pasta or vegetable dishes (all divine), but between the espresso brûlée and salted caramel mousse, my sweet-tooth was more than satisfied. On formal dining nights, there isn’t as much pressure to dress up as I expected there to be, so for me, I just put on my favorite black dress and enjoyed looking at everyone else’s getups. A ton of the ladies and gents go all out, and seeing all of the glitz and glamour is almost like a window into the past of how snazzy cruises used to be.
If I were writing a book on Princess Cruises, I would dedicate another chapter just to talk about the crew. I’ve never met people more excited about pleasing their passengers. Every crew member I met went above whatever I could have expected, whether it was learning my name after the first time they saw me and making a point to say hi throughout the week or helping my mom and I through time-consuming questions about how to best spend our days ashore in port. Their staff is from all corners of the world, from Japan and Romania to Australia and Wales, and let’s be honest, half of the men look like male models in their uniforms.
And, because I'm writing this post on behalf of Princess, you might be thinking the staff gave us special treatment on board…and that’s a no. The Princess PR team exclusively coordinated the trip, and there are so many staff members on board (over 1,500) that there’s no way our steward or anyone else on board could have known we would be writing about them in the following months. We did get a few phenomenal perks, like a Chef’s Table Lumiere evening dinner, fresh flowers and champagne delivered to our rooms, and a tour of the bridge (we even met the legendary Captain Edward Perrin!), but all through the lovely Sara, Princess’s PR maven. That’s how stellar the ship’s staff is, and the reason that I miss all of them so.
You may also be thinking I’m remembering this all with a rose-tinted lens, but I’ve been writing this post since I stepped on board through a series of notes on my iPhone. My 7-day stay on board the Regal Princess was a trip I’ll never forget, especially since I got to spend it with truelane’s number one fan: my mom. If you have any questions about cruising, leave them here in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them or tap my connections at Princess to help!
Thanks to Princess Cruises for sponsoring this post!