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Diary of A Voyage on the Regal Princess
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||Regal Princess Diary
Regal Princess 1: Boarding the ship is a breeze
By Jackie Sheckler Finch- Click here to read the entire diary.
Seeing the long line waiting to board the Regal Princess, I thought I would be standing there for quite a while. I was wrong. Boarding the big cruise ship was a breeze.
What made embarking so efficient and quick? The well-organized Princess staff kept the line moving quickly and most passengers had prepared their pre-boarding forms via computer at home. That meant passengers arrived with boarding passes in their hands.
Ah, the joys of technology!
In the comfort of my home, I had leisurely completed typing in the necessary information and printed out my boarding pass.
Princess also had sent me several emails before my cruise date reminding me of any information they might still need. Three days before the cruise, I received an email with “Final Information Before You Sail.”
The email listed what I needed to bring – my ship boarding pass, passport and any medication. I also received a luggage tag on line to print and staple to my suitcase handle. The tag had my name, ship name and cabin number. I travel with carry-on luggage and my computer bag so I stapled the luggage tag on my suitcase and was ready to go.
Before leaving home, I also had booked the cruise ship shuttle from Fort Lauderdale airport to Port Everglades terminal. Cost was $18 per person, a bargain for not having to hail a cab in the airport chaos. I also booked the shuttle back to the airport at cruise end.
When my plane landed, it was easy to find the Princess shuttle kiosk in the baggage claim area. The Princess rep checked my name off the shuttle list, gave me a big blue laminated cardboard with my shuttle number and directed me to a seat to await the shuttle.
The Princess rep also distributed health advisory forms that needed to be completed and handed in when we arrived at the ship terminal. That also was a time-saver. I noticed that some ship passengers at Port Everglades didn’t have the forms so they had to stop, get a form and fill it out.
When the airport shuttle boarding time arrived, the Princess rep led a procession of cruisers to the big transport bus. My luggage was stored underneath the bus and I would not see it again until it was delivered to my ship stateroom.
The ride to the ship terminal took about 15 minutes. In the terminal, the line moved quickly and I was soon walking aboard the Regal Princess.
It was about noon. Cabins weren’t ready yet but a wide array of food was. The Horizon Court/Bistro buffet on Deck 16 was huge. I suggest walking around to see what is offered on the buffet before taking a plate and making a choice.
The woman next to me in the buffet asked where I got the sushi. Her plate was already full so I’m not sure where she would put anything else but it’s good to see all the day’s offerings before making a commitment. That helps prevent waste.
To make the food choices even more tempting is a large buffet room between the Horizon Court and the Horizon Bistro. Called The Bakery, it is supposedly the largest dessert station on any cruise ship. My, oh, my, the sweets I glimpsed in there.
When I was at home, I also had paid online for the Unlimited Soda & More Package at $7 per person per day plus 15 percent gratuity so my boarding card already had the little sticker designating that I had paid for the program.
When I sat down at my Horizon Court table with an ocean view, a server quickly took note of the Unlimited Soda sticker on my boarding card and brought me a Coke.
Paying ahead of time online for that Unlimited Sofa package is another time-saving tip. Instead of having to find the table aboard ship that is selling the beverage packages, your boarding card is already stamped and ready for use.
A passenger from Maine seated at a table next to me had bought the Premier Beverage Package before boarding and already had a tasty-looking Bahama Breeze cocktail. The premier package costs $59.99 per day per person plus 15 percent gratuity and includes unlimited (costing $12 or less on the menu) cocktails, wine, beer, bottled water, soda, and specialty coffees. Those packages can be purchased only on the first day of the cruise.
The Regal Princess emphasizes health practices and signs of that are abundant around the ship. Along with the customary hand sanitizing stations, the ship also has little alcoves with sinks, soap and paper towels before entering Horizon Court.
As noted in a printed health advisory given to us when we boarded the ship, “hand sanitizers are only partially effective against norovirus and should therefore be used after and not instead of hand washing, particularly before eating in the buffet.”
Rather than having to find a bathroom to clean my hands before eating, those hand-washing stations are very handy. A great idea.
So I’m on board the Regal Princess for my week-long cruise. When I check into my cabin, I’ll let you know what it is like. I’ve already seen photos of it online and know it will be great.
Notice all those online computer references I’ve mentioned? Technology has made this boarding process so much simpler and I haven’t even told you about the biggest Princess technology yet – the brand new Ocean Medallion program – the first of its kind on ocean cruise ships.
It’s supposed to be quite a high tech deal so I’m looking forward to finding out more to share with you. Stay tuned.
Click here to read the entire diary.
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