This is about part 2 of our 2015 vacation. Milton was turning 60 in 2015 and wanted to visit Disney World in Orlando again. We had both had such a wonderful time on our first RSVP Vacations gay cruise so we decided to do another one of those too. We would fly to Orlando and spend a few days at Disney World and then drive down to Fort Lauderdale to get on the ship.
This was our seventh cruise. We had previously been on several Carnival ships, a couple Royal Caribbean ships and one MSC ship. This was our first Princess ship and like the MSC ship, it was an RSVP Vacations charter. RSVP Vacations really do a spectacular job of entertaining their passengers and so it makes it a little difficult to sort out who gets accolades for the positive and blame for the negative but I do want to try and sort it out here.
First of all, the positive: Last year was our first RSVP Vacations cruise and they had chartered an Italian line, MSC and that crew was a bit aloof, inattentive and unfriendly. The Regal Princess crew was just the opposite- they were warm, attentive and friendly and seemed to enjoy having us as passengers. They genuinely seemed to be having almost as much fun as we were. We appreciate that. I would give the crew a 10 out of 10. They were great.
The ship was fairly new and beautiful as most of the ships we have been on. It was a bit smaller than some of the other ships Milton and I have sailed on. My preference is for larger ships- favorite being RC “Allure of the Seas.” There is just more to do and see on those out at sea days on a larger cruise ship. With RSVP Vacations handling most of the entertainment on our cruise, things to do were certainly not a problem, but seeing a couple of the Regal Princess shows in their theater, I would put those on about the same level as Carnival or MSC- kind of a Las Vegas sort of vibe. Once we had gone on “Allure of the Seas” with their full production of “Chicago,” their ice skating shows, their Cirque De Soleil type show, their promenade parade, rock climbing walls, etc, etc… it is hard to go back to just mediocre Vegas type review shows.
There were a few negatives for me on Regal Princess. I thought they were a bit skimpy on the jetted pools. Out of the seven cruises we have been on, this ship had the least number of jetted pools and these were all very small.
The cabins also left a bit to be desired. They were about the same size as MSC. I don’t know the exact footage off hand but both RC and Carnival have two beds and a couch in their cabins. Their was no couch in the MSC or Regal Princess cabins. The balconies are very small in comparison as well.
As a retired Registered Nurse that has taken microbiology, I am always aware of cleanliness on a cruise. Every cruise we have been on have been great in the public areas for the appearance of cleanliness but most get a fail when it comes to the buffet. Royal Caribbean probably did the best job of encouraging passengers to use hand sanitizer as the entered the buffet line. As you entered, a crew member would tactfully direct each passenger to the hand sanitizer. I think that is a good idea. Watching passengers enter the buffet line on the Regal Princess, I think only about one in ten passengers used the hand sanitizer.
The other thing about the buffet cleanliness on Regal Princess was that it was not always clear to the passengers where the serving utensils should go after the passenger served themselves. On most of the other cruises we have been on, there are plates in front of each dish on which one can lay the serving utensil after use. On the Regal Princess, this was not always the case. People would be seen coughing or sneezing into their hands, serving themselves and contaminating the handles of the serving utensils and then, not having anywhere else to place the utensils, they would just lay them across the food. You get a few hundred people doing this and those buffet dishes become petri dishes for noro-virus and other contaminates. The dirtiest thing in restaurants are the menus because they are handled by everyone and rarely wiped down. The dirtiest thing in a cruise buffet line is the handles of the serving utensils. It grosses me out. I won’t eat anything from a buffet line where the handle of a serving utensil has been in contact with the food.
This was the first cruise we have been on that I have gotten sick. The night before I got sick, we had eaten in one of the dining rooms which should be relatively safe compared to the buffet lines. I ordered what they called a Caribbean Shrimp Cocktail. The shrimp itself seemed okay but the cocktail sauce seemed a little off to me. I also had a dish that was made of chicken breast with a thin slice of ham over it. The first bite was disgusting. I should have spit it out but I didn’t. I swallowed it and thinking that it was just the ham that tasted so bad, I peeled the ham back and discarded it to the side of my plate but then foolishly ate the chicken. I am pretty sure there was something wrong with the ham and it had probably contaminated the chicken and I do believe that was very likely what made me sick. One other option, though was the made to order omelet I had the next morning. I love the idea of a made to order omelet BUT it should be thoroughly cooked. Mine was cooked on the outside but the egg was runny on the inside. Regardless, whatever it was that made me sick, the shrimp, ham, chicken or omelette, it put me out of commission for most of one day. Thankfully, I just had one episode of vomiting and had some Ondansetron (Zofran), with me and took one of those and was feeling much better within about an hour.
I was a little surprised at the dining room food on Princess. For some reason, I was thinking it might be a step up from Carnival or RC but definitely not!! Out of the seven cruises we have been on, MSC and Princess had the worst food. The only positive thing I can say about the food on The Regal Princess, was that most of the cruises we have been on only serve hamburgers, hot dogs or pizza after 10pm. I don’t know if it was due to RSVP Vacations or if it is just standard, but the Regal Princess had a full buffet every night! Milton, who has a cast iron stomach, was eating at the buffet every night as late as midnight and 1am.
As is usual on all cruises, we started out with a “muster” drill. Everyone has to bring their life jackets to a location where you would board the life boats.
We were late to the “Hello, my name is…” party because Princess Cruises had lost Milton’s bag which had our “Hello, my name is…” t-shirts we had bought specifically for this occasion. We kept checking with our steward but finally, he told us to check at the purser’s desk. After checking there a coupe of times through the evening, Milton’s bag finally appeared. This was the first cruise that we have ever had problems with our bags arriving in our cabin.
Later that evening, around 8pm, we went to see “Charo” in the ship’s theater. She was only doing two performances and they were both on embarkation/sail away day. She did a wonderful show. I think everybody was impressed by how great she looked. Milton and I talked about seeing her on the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. We estimate that she must be close to 70 but then we did read somewhere that she got married at 16 so maybe she just got a very early start? Maybe she was only 18 or so when we say her originally back in the sixties?
At 10:30pm that first night, we attended the RSVP Vacations 30th Anniversary Diamond Party. There were a lot of people wearing silver in their outfits and so it kept feeling more like a “Silver” party than a “Diamond” party but it was great fun regardless. We love to dance and never miss an opportunity to do so if the music is good and the music is great on RSVP Vacations cruises. It is more than good!
The first day had been wonderful. There is such an abundance of activities on a RSVP Vacations Cruise. It is impossible to attend every activity and show.
The next morning, we woke up in Princess Cays.
Princess Cays is a private island owned by Princess Cruises. I rented some snorkeling equipment and saw some lovely fish out among the rocks offshore. Milton doesn’t swim and not interested in getting a tan but always sweet to let me have my “beach day.” A hamburger and hotdog buffet was served on the beach. Although we had purchased “soda” cards which are supposed to cover all the soda you want to drink during the cruise, our soda cards were not good on this island. Princess seemed to want to nickel and dime us for sodas. They should have been included at this buffet!
Upon return to the ship, after we had rested and had dinner in one of the dining rooms, we attended the Princess Cruises show “Fiera!” In addition to all the incredible activities that RSVP Vacations provide, we still get the standard fare from the cruise line. Fiera! was the typical cruise line show for a midsize ship and had a few singers and a few dancers. There were some interesting visual effects. The Princess Theater was the smallest of any of the cruise line theaters we had seen.
Carnival and MSC offer similar shows. Royal Caribbean exceeds all the others in entertainment, though. Royal Caribbean has full Broadway productions on some of their ships. On the “Allure of the Seas,” that we had taken a couple of years previously, RC had a production of “Chicago,” an “ice” show as they also have ice rinks on their ships. They also had a Cirque du Soleil type water show as well. In all the “straight” cruises we have been on, Royal Caribbean far surpasses MSC, Princess or Carnival when it comes to entertainment. When it comes to gay cruises, RSVP Vacations does such an incredible job that it really doesn’t matter much what the cruise line offers.
At 10:30pm, we went to the “Disco Inferno” party with DJ Robbie Leslie. He had been on the gay cruise we had taken in 2014. He does a great job of playing all the hits from the “disco” era. We heard all of favorites from the 70’s, including Sylvester, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Chaka Khan, and many others.
As we were leaving the dance floor, we saw a guy laid out on a couple of tables. He looked like he was unconscious. I asked the guy that was standing over him if he was okay. This guy replied that he was okay. But as we approached the doorway to where the elevators were, we saw a ship medic of some kind coming out and going toward where we had seen this guy.
The next morning, upon awakening, it was announced over the loudspeakers that we were heading at top speed to Miami as there had been a medical emergency. We heard somewhere along the line that there were two people who had overdid it at the Disco Inferno party and were possibly in coma’s. We assumed that it was probably due to some bad drugs. Upon arrival in Miami, we were meant by multiple police cars, ambulances and drug sniffing dogs. We were in port in Miami for a couple of hours before we were allowed to go back out to sea. The itinerary had to be changes slightly but really didn’t have much effect on the cruise.
Once we left Miami, it was back to lounging around the pools and wandering around the ship.
On the third day of the cruise, February 10th, we spent a relaxing day out at sea. In the afternoon we attended “The Love Boat T-Dance.” Princess Cruise line was the one used in the seventies television show. The actress that played the daughter of Captain Stubbing was on the ship and we kept running into her. She was no longer a chubby kid. Of course, Charo had also been a guest star on The Love Boat, too. A special message from the actor that played Captain Stubbing was played on the big screen.
After resting for a while, having dinner in one of the dining rooms and wandering the ship and checking out various shows, including Bob the Drag Queen, we attended the “Code” party. This was a bit risqué with many of the men in leather or minimal clothing.
On Wednesday, the 11th, we had another day out to sea. We attended various shows and lounged around the ship. That night, we attended “The Pajama Party.”
On the 12th, we got off the ship for a few minutes in Cozumel. I wasn’t feeling very well and when we got back to the ship, I had to rest in the cabin. My stomach was churning and turning and finally I ended up on the bathroom floor next to the toilet. Finally, I vomited. This was the first time I had been sick on a cruise. I am convinced that it was something I had eaten the night before- the awful shrimp cocktail, or the disgusting chicken breast with a slice of ham on it. The only other possibility was the “made to order omelette.” I was too sick to attend the “Diva’s” T-Dance.
Later that evening, I was feeling better and we did go to the “Time Machine Party.”
On Friday, the 13th, we were anchored off Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Milton and I had been there a couple of times on other cruises but we did get off the ship and took a walk. When we returned to the ship. the “Ranch” T-Dance was underway.
That night, they had the “Anything Goes Costume Contest” party. First there was a fun costume party and then more dancing.
On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, we attended the “Blush and Bashful” T-Dance.
It was a wonderful cruise. Disembarkation is always the worst day of any cruise. The ships always want you up and out of the cabin early in the morning. Some ships are better than others in getting everybody off the ship. Since our plane didn’t leave Fort Lauderdale until the afternoon, we decided to take the Everglades- Flamingo Gardens excursion that would kill some time and get us to the airport in plenty of time for our flight. We boarded an airboat and zipped through this part of the Everglades. We did see an alligator.
From the Everglades tour, we went to the Flamingo Gardens before heading to the airport. It was a lovely gardens and we did see some flamingos.