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threedecs wrote a review Sep 2022
16 contributions4 helpful votes
7 Day Mediterranean Cruise Review/Princess Regal
Route: Rome, Naples, Sea Day, Crete, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykonos, Athens

We just got back from our Mediterranean Cruise! It was my first “real” cruise, since my 3 day Ensenada party cruise on Carnival many years ago. Since it was my first cruise, I have a lot to say; however, please note I don’t have any comparison other than the 3-day cruise, so my review is truly based on my own opinions (and that of my family) and first impressions.
First things first – we are a family of 3, including our 16 yr old. We booked our cruise through Triple A (AAA). Our experience with the agent assigned to us was pleasant. She was able to answer most of our questions, and I had many because again, this was a major trip for us. I think I probably got on her nerves a bit because she gave me the toll free number to Princess, lol. Whateves – the more you know right! I did have reservations also because of COVID requirements, and then reviewing the US Department of Travel website only generated more stress because of the type of information(Covid, terrorist attacks, etc.) it provides about the countries we were visiting. I probably should have stayed off that site. Anyhow, we made it safe and sound. Our travel agent has never taken this particular cruise and was unable to help with selecting excursions offered by Princess, which would have been helpful (more on excursions below).
We went early to Rome and also stayed two nights in Athens at the end of our cruise. The travel agent selected the hotels in both places; she really didn’t provide options to choose from, but both hotels were nice. We probably would have chosen a different location in Rome. We left home early on a Wednesday and arrived in Rome early Thursday morning. Our arrival at the airport, finding the Princess bus to get to hotel was seamless. We did have to wait about 45 minutes – 1 hour for other passengers before leaving airport, and there were three stops at different hotels before we arrived at ours. We were pretty wiped, so we didn’t do anything on Thursday, which was a bummer. We walked around our hotel area a bit to find food, and that’s about it. We were surprised by the trash, graffiti and crazy driving EVERYWHERE in Rome. And, ladies – FYI: no toilet seat covers anywhere on the trip, which freaked me out, so I did bring a few of my own (Amazon). I’m not a complete germaphobe, around a 6 on a scale between 1-10, 10 being crazy germaphobe, lol, but I had no desire to find out later what I was sitting in or on! Hard pass for me.

ROME: In Rome, we stayed in a Hilton Garden, outside of the city center. It probably took 1 hour from the airport to hotel. The hotel was small, room was tiny with a queen bed and tiny cot like bed for the teen, poor air conditioning, small gym, small bar and lobby area, and no pool. It offered a descent continental breakfast, but did not have much for our Celiac teen. I did bring snacks and even some breakfast cereal with us, and it paid off on several occasions.
I guess I’ll talk a little about CELIAC DISEASE now – Celiac is an auto-immune disease, most people say allergy to gluten. Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley and rye, and any derivative of the same. In short, when gluten is ingested, it affects the small intestine basically preventing the needed vitamins/nutrients from getting into your system, leaving your intestine inflamed and infected for a long period of time. It causes stomach cramping, diarrhea (sorry to be so graphic), headache, fever, chills, and long term, a possibility of cancer and other horrible things. Most people, like my husband and myself at one time, thought gluten is in only bread and pasta; however, we have come to learn gluten it is in everything, from sauces, spices, cereals, dressings, mixes, candy, medicine, toothpaste, and various drinks. On one occasion, our teen drank a Yoo-hoo on our way to Yellowstone, and within 20 minutes he was sick to the point we were stopping every 30 minutes for him, and by the time we made it to our hotel in Utah, we were looking for an emergency room. He was as pale as a ghost, 102 fever …thought he had Covid! We didn’t realize the Yoo-hoo had gluten. Long story short, when gluten is ingested by someone with a gluten intolerance or Celiac, it can cause severe illness. Although more and more restaurants and food companies offer gluten free choices, there is still a lack of labeling and knowledge about the affects, and Celiac Disease in general. This trip was no exception and was challenging, even on the ship. It was a definite learning experience for us, and very eye opening for our son. GO to www.Celiac.org for more information, and be Kind – you never know what someone else is going through.
Back to the Hilton….
We did walk around our hotel a bit to find somewhere to eat, and we found this lovely restaurant, TAVERNA ROSSINI, down the street with fantastic food. Our server “Juana” was so nice and helpful! I can’t say enough about her and this restaurant! We actually dined their both nights, partly because they had gluten free options for our teen. The hotel was probably 15-20 minutes away from the Vatican, Colosseum, and Trevi Fountain (all in different directions), so we couldn’t really walk anywhere. We only had one full day really so we pre-arranged private tours of the Vatican and Colosseum, and took a taxi on our own to the Fountain. We found the Spanish steps, but the area around the Steps were blocked off due to a big fashion show. We saw a lot of people dressed up, media, etc. and lots of spectators. We didn’t find out until later what was going on.
ROME EXCURSIONS: We were unable to book excursions through Princess because we boarded the ship there,, so we went through a third party vendor, Viator.
Viator: we are not pleased with Viator. We do not recommend Viator. It seems you book with Viator, and they contract with guides in each area. Our first outing was the Vatican. We booked the Private Early Bird Vatican Tour, which included the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and pick/up drop off at hotel (dress code strictly enforced). It was just the three of us, plus the guide. Our guide picked us up on time at our hotel and we taxied over to the Vatican. Our guide had a degree in art/history and was a historian. She was fantastic. She had the necessary tickets, we skipped the line and walked right in. Our tour started at 8 am and ended around 11-11:30am. She knew her way around the Vatican, which we probably saw ¼ of, it’s huge! She was very knowledgeable in every area we visited. At the end of our tour, she took us to a Vatican gift shop across a tiny street, and kindly waited for us to shop. When we were done, she arranged a taxi to take us to the Colosseum. Although this was one of best excursions of the trip, we did not see the Basilica which was included in the tour. Unfortunately, we didn’t remember it was part of our tour until after our experience at the Colosseum and in Greece.
Our second tour was to see the Colosseum. We booked the Colosseum Tour of the Arena, the underground, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. When we arrived at the meeting place for our tour, the person representing Viator showed up and handed us off to another guide. When we walked over to the forum we skipped the lines and entered a gate where a security guard from the forum took “roll” of the 20 people we were touring with (Colosseum security strictly enforce their rules). The Viator rep disappeared by this time. My name, along with 3-5 other people, was not added to the list, so I was denied entry. We did not get what we paid for, which was beyond disappointing. Seeing the Colosseum was one of the main reasons we chose to go to Rome early. The guide we were with tracked down the Viator representative and she was unable to help us even after calling her boss. It was a disaster. We reported this to our credit card company and we’re disputing the $300+ fee. The Viator account we set up online when we booked the tours reflects we cancelled. We highly recommend reading the details of each excursion, including those booked through Princess (more below), print out the confirmation and the details of the tour. We should have paid more attention to this. Learning experience for sure!
PRINCESS REGAL
Embarkation Day: The Princess bus picked up a large group, on time, from the hotel to get to the ship, and made two more stops along the way. We waited in line to drop off our luggage. I kept a small carryon bag with essentials, including our bathing suits, because we weren’t sure when our luggage would be brought to our room. Boarding and going through security was easy – no problems. We immediately had to provide proof of negative Covid tests and full vaccination. We bought Covid tests through the Princess website so we could do them in our room one day in advance of boarding, instead of roaming around Rome looking for somewhere to test or waiting in line at the dock. The tests were around $200 for six. It was pretty simple once we downloaded the two required apps, created individual log-ins, and connected to the “nurse”online. They actually watch you swab, and then you wait 15 minutes for the result. Once you show the negative wand, they send you a written report to your email. You have to show the Princess representative the email. You are provided with a Medallion (you can have this mailed to you prior to your trip), which is controlled by an smart phone APP in an effort to be hand/paper free, probably related to Covid. The medallion is activated once you check-in. The Medallion App does not work well period. The app would be cool if it worked well. You can view the daily schedule, see locations of travel companions (which came in handy to keep track of our teen), pay for things, and this is the only way you can make dining reservations. Many people were complaining about the Medallion and the wi-fi, rightfully so. It was hit or miss throughout the trip. Our cruise package (approx. $14,000) included “cancel any time insurance”, flights, mini-suite, two adult drink packages, kid drink package, wi-fi for three, two dinners in the specialty restaurants, $50 ship credit, tips and gratuities, and transfers to and from airport to hotels (highly recommended). Casino and excursions were separate, and probably $3,000 more or less. The ship is beautiful, not too big. It is clean and well maintained. Our mini-suite included a queen size bed, a pull out couch separated by a privacy partition, coffee table and two televisions. The bathroom had a shower/tub and plenty of counter space. We had a full size closet and shelving with a small safe. There was plenty of space for clothes and other items. Dresser, night stands with plenty of drawer space, and a balcony with two chairs and small table. It was a really nice size cabin. The person assigned to our room kept it very clean, with fresh towels each day. We were designated as “club” level, which was a pleasant surprise. Not sure if this was discussed with our travel agent, I’m sure we paid for it somehow, but it turned out to be a higher level — two free half bottles of wine in our room, champagne toast upon arrival, crudités each night, and a special area in the Symphony dining room, which included window tables and a special menu item each night that was only available to this level of passengers. The ship was not at full capacity because of Covid. We didn’t have any problems with making dining reservations at the two specialty restaurants. The pool area was crowded on the one ‘at sea’ day we had during the cruise, but we still found a spot to relax. The adult pool was packed. Not many seat/lounge chairs. It was easy to get food and drinks at the pool bars. I would say the average age of the majority of adult passengers was over 50. When we were boarding, this worried me a little because of our teen. Once we boarded we found the teen Beach House club to sign him up. There ended up being a lot of teens on the ship. Our teen participated in many of the activities and had a blast, met so many people from all over the place. One of his new friends may even come and visit next summer! Huge Success!
Dining
Prior to our trip our travel agent made Princess aware of our teen’s gluten free diet. I read on the Princess website it’s a requirement to inform the ship of special diet requirements 60 days in advance of departure. I don’t think our travel agent was aware of this because we almost missed the deadline. She assured us the dining room would already be aware of his diet once we registered and connected through the medallion and there would be plenty for him to eat and drink. This was not the case on ship or on excursions. As I mentioned, we were assigned to the Symphony dining room. The service was outstanding. The entire staff was friendly, respectful, helpful and professional. They did their best to accommodate our teen once we made them aware of his diet. There was not may gluten free options in general, which was beyond disappointing. There were many vegan choices. The other thing that was surprising and very disappointing was the lack of labeling of gluten free items at the buffet, gelato shop, and café. Basically everywhere on ship we had to ask about food ingredients. We had to ask every time our teen wanted to try something. I can’t put into words how discouraging this was for us. It was major concern we clearly expressed to our travel agent before taking this trip. Beyond this, the food in the dining room was great! I actually liked the buffet the couple times we went for breakfast. It was always crowded, but doable. A lot of choices of meats, breads, pastries, fresh fruit, veggies, salads, and even a coffee bar. The steak house was great, as well as the Italian restaurants. I can’t say enough about the dining staff. Even at the buffet, one of the Chefs went above and beyond by making gluten free pancakes – they were not good, lol, but “A plus” for effort. Princess definitely needs to step up their game in this area, staff education and perhaps hire a nutritionist on ship.
Entertainment
We spent time in the casino which was fun (and expensive, lol). There was only one time when it was too crowded to play roulette. We didn’t see any shows, because the line-up was really minimal, and not enticing. I heard comments from other guests saying Princess has cutback on the entertainment. Although this was somewhat disappointing, we were so busy each day with excursions, we basically went to the dining room, one of the bars or casino. There wasn’t much of a night life, at least not what I expected. The disco didn’t start until 11pm on most nights, which is late when you have to be up and ready for the next days excursions. There were also a photographers on formal night located on several of the floors. You waited in line to get your picture taken. The photographer in the line we were in was very serious about his job. He took a billion photos of each couple/family, to the point some people were getting irritated. I’m sure some people appreciated it. We cut it short and were still able to get beautiful (and costly) photos! Shopping on the ship has a bit to be desired. There was an expensive jewelry store that hosted several events during the cruise and seemed to be pretty popular with some guests. There was lower end jewelry shop and a clothing store, which also had some wine choices. There was an art exhibit where you can purchase the items; a very small store that had some food items and toiletries. I was surprised it didn’t have more of selection considering there were some people on the ship that were on the 14 day route. My husband and I did have a couples massage. It was a 1 hour massage. Basically you’re together in the same room, each with your own certified masseuse. It was a definite splurge, equivalent to Burke Williams prices, minus the amenities offered by Burke Williams when you purchase a service. I think Princess can improve in this area as well. If you spend $300-$500 on a massage, you should be able to use the steam room or sauna, right?

Princess Excursions: Outside of embarkation/debarkation locations (Rome/Athens), we booked excursion at the five other ports – Naples, Crete, Kudasi, Istanbul, Mykonos-through Princess.
I can go into detail about each location – there is something special about each place. Every place was beautiful and the history was fascinating! Knowing what we know now – read the details of the overview for each excursion. We did not get to tour what was indicated in the overview of the trips we purchased in Naples/Pompei, Crete, and Istanbul. After Istanbul where for the second time our teen did not get the included gluten free lunch, we went to speak to the concierge on ship to voice our concerns. They listened and we got a small refund for Pompei, but you can’t get back the experience, especially in Pompei. We took the same tour as some friends, and their experience was completely different. They got what we paid for. In Mykonos we hired a private car. Our driver spoke great English and actually lived in Boston, but worked in Mykonos during the five month tourist season. We also had a guide and she was phenomenal and beautiful! My new bestie! She is an archeologist by trade (and singer) and also only works on the island during tourist season. We wanted to experience the beaches, so she took us to three different beaches, and a fantastic place for lunch. I’m glad we had our own driver because we would have never made it to the beaches (and the teen would have never have seen so many boobies and booties). The island was packed and there was so much traffic. We were able to see the windmills really quickly and make a stop to take a few pictures a couple of places before we had to get back to catch the ferry to the ship. Although it was extremely windy this day and I didn’t have time to visit even one shop (so sad), Mykonos is the first place we’re going back to – well Greece in general! We loved it! We disembarked in Athens, and had 1 ½ days there. We visited the Temple of Zeus, the Plaka (shopping – yeah me!!), and the next day we had a private car and guide to visit the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, and the plaza where we saw the changing of the guard. We also stopped at the Olympic Stadium. We had a private certified guide in Athens also. She was also fantastic. We were picked up and dropped off at our hotel, Marriott, on time. Quickly, this Marriott was awesome! The lobby dining room and patio area was lovely. There was a small roof-top pool we didn’t have time for and beautiful bar. The food was also fantastic with happy to say, gluten free choices for the teen. Our room was decent size and had two queen size beds. After our Acropolis excursion, we visited the beach on our own. It was 4pm by the time we got there by taxi and it was still booming. It was packed, DJ, bar/dining, a couple of stores and a water fun-zone. People of all ages and sizes. We were surprised you have to pay to go to the “organized” beaches in Greece, but they are fun fun fun!
We were picked at our hotel on time, and although we made it to the airport one hour away, our flight was delayed, so we missed our connecting flight in Chicago to California.We ended up getting in 4 hours later than scheduled and a different airport. So nice to finally sleep in our own bed!
Overall, cruising is great – most things are paid for in advance, you’re protected if anything goes wrong, you have ship amenities and opportunities to meet to so many different people. The down side is the stops at each port are fast; however, you get a sneak peak at the places you might want to return to and spend more time. We’ll definitely cruise again, but maybe try a different line like Celebrity.
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Sail Date: July 2022
Cabin Type: Balcony
Type of Trip:
Destination: Mediterranean
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This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Regal Princess

135 reviews
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Overview

About
Passengers: 3,560   |   Crew: 1,346
Passengers to crew: 2.64:1
Passengers to space: 39.6:1
Launched: 2014   

Decks

  • Deck 4
  • Deck 5
  • Deck 6
  • Deck 7
  • Deck 8
  • Deck 9
Additional decks
Deck 4 layout
 
Amenities
Medical Center
Tender Embarkation
Tender Embarkation

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Balcony
Cabin size: 222 - 233 sq. ft.
Connected rooms: 26
Accessible rooms: 22
Maximum passengers: 4
Number of cabins: 1088
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Nickrocks wrote a review Nov 2022
Port Huron, Michigan1 contribution
The cruise itself was a nice experience. However, I wish I could say the Princess Customer Service was poor after issues returning home, but they cared so litte that it was truly non-existent. In other words, they never gave themselves an opportunity to be poor. I never received a response relating to my numerous attempts to reach out over an 8 month period. Although they do not respond to customer service complaints, they do have enough $ to pay Ryan who has reached out to me about 20x to see when I want to book my next excursion. Thanks for the constant reminder of my disappointment with their cruise line!
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Terry W wrote a review Nov 2022
Australia91 contributions66 helpful votes
In August we departed on our grand Mediterranean cruise of 21 days from Barcelona on the Regal Princess. The cruise was just fantastic and would do the same cruise again but next time would depart from Rome or if possible Athens as there is no need to fly all the way over to Spain. Tha balcony cabin was excellent and the staff fantastic (Jose) made our room up every day and ensured our ice bucket was filled daily, he was great. For dinner we ate in the Allegro dining room and Nilesh was amazing. After a few nights he started keeping "our" table and it was a great experience. In the buffet Joseph was a pleasure each morning but all the staff were fantastic never wanting for anything. The staff and the ship was just fantastic and would have no issue recommending the cruise to anyone.
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Mobile 07484850004 wrote a review Nov 2022
6 contributions3 helpful votes
I love the princess cruises once on board however the ground staff let the company down big time. They promise you the moon and star once booked trust me it’s a different scenario when something goes wrong. I experienced flights cancelled 28hrs prior to cruise, I tried phoning princess passed from pillar to post my call was a hour and a half long was promised a call first thing in the morning from the flights department still waiting, was also told if flights were cancelled cruise was also cancelled the only people I received any information from was the airline. Finally arrived in Athens 7hrs 30mins later than originally planned to realise our booked transfers had not turned up this was 12.30am still waiting for a apology for that. I am also still waiting for a refund on cost of extra legroom for cancelled flights. I had booked another cruise prior to going away I’m now prepared to loss my deposit on a holiday that was costing £8,800 Because once again ground staff not listening and passing on the buck. Good luck if you need to get In-touch because NOBODY follows through with their promises. I also sent a letter recorded delivery to princess cruise still waiting a reply Again none of this reflects on the staff onboard the ship they give 100% and more.
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Jean R wrote a review Oct 2022
Oia, Greece4 contributions3 helpful votes
We recently returned from our first cruise since the onset of COVID. We sailed from Rome to Barcelona on the Regal Princess September 2022. The positives: our inside cabin was simple but adequate and our steward was absolutely wonderful. The ports we visited were incredible which is why we chose this itinerary. We bought excursions for almost every port and these and the guides were wonderful. We listened to authentic Greek music and observed and participated in Greek dance in Athens and in Crete. We went to the Acropolis museum in Athens with the most incredibly knowledgeable guide. We had a full day guide in Istanbul where we skipped the lengthy lines to enter the Sophia mosque and ended the day with a dinner cruise on the Bosphorus --the food and experience there were fantastic. And we met some wonderful people by always choosing to share a dinner table. Now some negatives: I booked great flights on Princess EZ Air. 3 weeks before flying I discovered that our tickets on these flights had all been cancelled (the flights were still operating.) Had I not been on top of this, who knows what would have happened? What happened after 4 hours on the phone was that they had to find new flights for us--these required additional stops and we were the last ones to get on the ship --they had to send someone to get us from the plane to the transport that was waiting for us. We got to check in at the cruise port and found that they had added mandatory negative COVID tests. They had a testing station--rapid test for $60! Thank god we were negative. On board the food quality has considerably decreased since pre-Covid times. The meat quality is very poor but they do have amazing pastries! I remember grand shows in the Princess theater at 8PM every night, but there was only one--the first night. Afterwards small shows--usually at 7--too early to get to from dinner. We did see a ventriloquist who we thought was very funny. There were constant movies (with sound so loud that you could hear it from anywhere on the ship) being shown on the outdoor screen--not conducive for quiet reading or relaxing. They kept telling us that we had to carry government issued picture id's when ashore--foolishly we did that although no-one ever asked to see them. Our passports were stolen in Santorini which meant we had to spend our day in Naples at the US Consulate. Hope this helps you to plan carefully!
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Erin S wrote a review Oct 2022
Bath, United Kingdom13 contributions5 helpful votes
Basically we booked this cruise for the itinerary….we’d never been to Turkey or Montenegro so we’re very much looking forward to our holiday. We usually travel on British ships. SHIP AND CABIN….Very clean. The cabin had so much storage we didn’t even use all of it. SERVICE…Excellent in Horizon Buffet….up to 45 min. standing in a queue at the Concerto Dining Room with the hostess scurrying around doing a lot of the detail work including setting the tables and trying to find tables where people could sit. FOOD….The selection at the Buffet was good, but neither of us ever had anything more than tepid meals. The vegetables were undercooked and mostly inedible. The pastry shop had lovely desserts. The Concerto dining room had little choice from day to day….pretty much the same menu daily. For meat/fish diners, it was ok, but because I don’t eat meat, I had one choice so if I didn’t fancy that, I had to ask for potatoes from one menu choice and vegetables….always undercooked….from another. Everything was cold anyway. We decided that the strategy here was to make you go to one of the specialty restaurants so you’d spend more money….more about this later. ENTERTAINMENT….If you like incessant loud music EVERYWHERE….except the cabins…this is your ship. It even invaded the tiny “library”. The quizzes were stupid with several people cheating…WHT? The Bravo show was great…that repeated the second week…the rest was forgotten after 3 minutes. Virtually no quiet spaces for those who like to read, play games, write, etc. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY….For the better part of the trip….except whilst sleeping…you are bombarded by ways to part with your money…use your medallion, and you’ll never know how much you’re drinking, spending at the shops, and gambling. The constant unabashed ways that Princess finds to get you to spend made my head spin. QUEEN ELIZABETH’S Funeral….We were so grateful that Princess decided to televise the Queen’s funeral. We watched it in the Princess Theatre with many others who gathered to show their respect. Why they televised it on the big outside screen with the sunbathers and pool lovers drinking cocktails and gambling away. Not sure what other Brits thought about that, but to us, the Queen had served our country for over 70 years, and turning this deeply felt state funeral into an outdoor entertainment seemed a mockery. Needless to say, we won’t be going on a Princess cruise again.
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