The cruise industry seems to be moving towards a “big ship” design. Ever since Voyager of the Seas debuted in 1999, the cruise industry has built larger and larger ships to both meet demand and to offer amenities other cruise lines could not. Unfortunately, many long time cruisers who cherish the intimate and classic designs of mid and small sized ships are being passed over when it comes to new ship designs. Thankfully, this past week, I discovered big doesn’t necessarily mean big.
Last week, I sailed aboard Princess Cruises’ relatively new Regal Princess. Debuting this past May in the Mediterranean, she’s a behemoth by industry standards (ranking as the 12th largest ship in the world) and a departure from Princess’ smaller sized ships of the past. Many cruisers, especially seasoned Princess guests, may find the Regal Princess’ 142,229 tons, 1,083 feet, 19 decks, and 1,780 staterooms intimidating; yet they shouldn’t. Upon boarding the Regal Princess in Port Everglades, I found myself strolling through the Piazza, the ship’s central atrium. I immediately felt a sense of familiarity, harkening back to my sailing aboard the Ruby Princess in February and my tour of the Caribbean Princess in 2013. As I looked around, I thought to myself that this atrium, while slightly larger, could belong to any mid-sized Princess ship. It was funny, because I knew the ship was much larger than past Princess ships, but it held on to its intimate and cozy atmosphere.
Later, after unpacking and grabbing a breath of fresh air from my private balcony, I took off to explore other areas of the ship. As I walked down the various decks, for example, Promenade, I was once again struck by the familiarity and atmosphere of Princess’ past ships. Making the left turn from the aft elevator bank, I passed by the Crown Grill on my left, and glanced out a row of windows on my right. Eventually, I passed the new Princess Live lounge and made my way into the open and engaging Piazza. While I had noticed the new spaces that have emerged aboard, walking down that promenade carried a familiarity. It felt like I was back aboard the Ruby Princess, yet with new bars, lounges, and design.
Now, this isn’t to say that Princess has effectively cloned its ships, but they have somehow managed to build a larger, more efficient ship, while preserving the atmosphere its guests have come to know and love. When designing this ship, Princess knew it wouldn’t succeed by making a radical change. Princess evolved. The Regal Princess brings together guest favorites, such as the Crown Grill and the Piazza, while adding new and exciting features, such as Princess Live and the SeaWalk. Aboard the Regal Princess, these staples and innovations converge in a design that offers a mid-sized ship feeling aboard a ship that is much larger than a cruiser realizes.
All around the Regal Princess, from the Horizon Court, to the Crown Grill, and even the theater, Princess has brought the comforts of its current fleet into a modern and larger ship. Sailing aboard the Regal Princess, I never even thought to myself that I was sailing aboard the 12th largest ship in the world. I only knew I was sailing aboard a Princess ship. A ship that truly felt like Princess, regardless of size. For me, a sense of familiarity is a huge “plus” on any cruise vacation. I’m not the type who necessarily enjoys sailing between various classes of ships, as different classes of ships can feel like completely different cruise lines. You shouldn’t find this feeling aboard the Regal Princess. Alongside her sister, the Royal Princess, the Regal Princess has successfully captured the familiarity of earlier Princess ships, while evolving to offer guests new amenities and spaces aboard a larger, yet familiar and comfortable onboard atmosphere.