Regal Princess, the ship we are on, is the largest in the Princess fleet. It holds 3600 passengers and 1500 crew members; and, really, it doesn’t seem crowded at all. Still, after two weeks on the Regal last spring and another two weeks this time around, I’ve decided I like the smaller ships (That would be the 1500 passenger range.) better.
There’s a certain “vibe” to a ship, as strange as that seems. If you’ve sailed only once, you might not notice. But when you’ve been on a variety of ships, you have a basis for comparison.
The Regal is about flashy entertainment, specialty dining experiences, and more structured game options. This translates to more singers and dancers, more comedians, more food, and more ways for passengers to participate in shows that test their knowledge of their mates, their ability to recall trivia, their recognition of lyrics from songs of various decades, and – generally – more ways to look foolish.
I’m not against looking foolish; that’s part of the charm of being on a cruise vacation. At the same time, I’ve had enough of the “more” concept.
I can’t name all the Princess ships we’ve been on, but I do remember the ones I liked best. The Crown Princess, for instance, had a cozy coffee café, while the Regal is more like an assembly line. Several older ships have a real promenade deck that actually circles the entire ship; the Regal doesn’t. If you want to get some walking exercise, you have to fight the winds on the eighteenth deck instead of the seventh (the standard promenade deck). On older ships the specialty restaurants were secluded from the general areas; on the Regal they’re not.
I imagine a lot of this has to do with money. When you are the largest ship in the fleet, you are probably the most costly. So it’s important to get passengers to sign up for all the activities, particularly the ones that are extra. Perhaps they’re more apt to do this when the options are front and center.
I will say that large or small doesn’t matter when it comes to service. Occasionally we’ll overhear some other passenger complaining, but we have never had anything but the highest level of attention from every crew member on every ship we’ve sailed.