Weekly Cruise News – May 30, 2014
The Debut of Regal Princess
Princess Cruises’ new Regal Princess quietly debuted in Europe this month. The fanfare will come later when the 3,560-passenger ship arrives in its new homeport of Fort Lauderdale in November, but she’s no less a knockout than her slightly older sibling, Royal Princess.
Big sister had the distinction of being christened last June by the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) – and debuted as Princess’ first new ship in five years and the line’s largest ever. Regal Princess is equal in both beauty and purpose.
As Porthole experienced aboard Regal Princess this week, passengers get a modern yet traditional cruising experience, with just the right touch of elegance and a thoughtful layout, which means you can find a lively crowd when you want one and quiet spaces when you don’t.
Cruising the Greek Isles, the space that kept drawing us was The Piazza, the ship’s hub and a prime hangout spot. In the three-deck atrium area we alternately sipped lattes, hand-shaken martinis, and decent wine selections while people watching and enjoying live entertainment (a string quartet or acrobats for example), amidst surrounds of undulating marble staircases, theatrical balconies, twinkling lights, and waterfalls. It’s a very special space.
The ship has other “wows” including the SeaWalk, a top-deck, glass-bottomed stretch that extends 28 feet off the ship and showcases the sea below. Nighttime water and light shows at the main pools are another attention-grabber.
Regal Princess passengers can luxuriate in a hydrotherapy pool and steam rooms at the expansive Lotus Spa, get a treat at the gelato shop, enjoy a fondue dinner (among several alternative dining options), catch sun in a luxurious adults-only area, and try oyster shooters at the seafood bar (extra fees apply).
Based on past-passenger feedback, new features on Regal Princess include a nice aft pool with wading area, longer stretches to walk on the outdoor promenade, and two well-received 40-minute show productions.
AmaDara to debut on the Mekong in 2015
AmaWaterways says its new AmaDara will cruise the Mekong beginning in August 2015 – joining sister ship AmaLotus. The 7-day cruises include an overnight in Phnom Penh, with optional land extensions in Hanoi/Ha Long Bay, Siem Reap, and Ho Chi Minh City. Aboard the 124-passenger AmaDara, accommodations are in oversized cabins and suites with the river line’s “Twin Balcony” feature (you get both a French and traditional balcony). AmaDara will also have two restaurants, a swimming pool, a fitness center, salon and spa services, and WiFi.
Royal to Expand Cape Liberty
Royal Caribbean says work has begun on a new state-of-the-art cruise terminal in Cape Liberty Cruise Port – as part of a deal the cruise line reached with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The $55 million project includes 125,000 square feet of check-in, customs and immigration and luggage processing space and a 900-car parking facility, as well as pier improvements. It’s no coincidence the project is slated for completion by November. That’s when the line’s much-anticipated Quantum of the Seas is set to debut at the port.
- The latest star to sign on for an appearance on Queen Mary 2 is Kim Novak, best known for appearing in the Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo. She’ll do a Q&A with passengers on the July 6 trans-Atlantic crossing.
- Norwegian Cruise Line passengers can now make reservations for specialty restaurants 90 days prior to embarkation. That’s 45 days earlier than the previous reservations window. Those staying in The Haven suites can assure their tables 100 days in advance.
— Fran Golden