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Regal Princess Inaugural 7 Night Cruise Review

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I’ll warn everyone in advance now that I tend to write very long reviews. Some people love long reviews, the more detail the better. Others prefer a more short, succinct and high level overview. If you fall into the latter camp, you should probably not read any further :).

 

I know also that Av8tor has been writing an excellent live review from the Regal (and I just realized that Av8tor and his wife were with us on our all day tour of Athens!). Hopefully I will not duplicate too many of the same points as Av8tor has made.

 

I am in the process of uploading many, many photos to Flickr. So far I have added sets for both Venice, and I'll add my Regal Princess photos tonight also. The remaining port photos will be added as I add my reviews here. I’ll also include a few photos in this review.

 

So, here we go!

 

Venice Day 1

 

This was our first visit to Venice and we enjoyed it very much. The weather was fantastic (as it was throughout our cruise), and although Venice was busy I suspect it can and will be much worse over the coming months, and this is no doubt true for all the ports we visited.

 

We arrived from Frankfurt at around 5 in the evening. We had pre-booked a shared water taxi through Viator, and after a short wait for all to arrive, we were on our way. I had initially planned that we would take the Alilaguna, but read so many negative reviews of this service that I changed my mind. The Alilaguna was not, however, busy at all. But our water taxi was a fun ride (and as we were sitting in the open back area, a bit wet a few times) ride, and took us through some of the fun back canals before dropping us off at Rialto Bridge. From there it was a short walk to the Hotel Gorizia near St. Mark’s, our home for the next two nights.

 

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Check in at the Gorizia was quick and friendly. Our room was on the second floor, and we had a nice view to narrow street below. The room itself was small, but very clean and charming in an ‘old world’ way. The bed was comfortable. The bathroom was modern, with a great shower, and a bidet. The only complaint I have is about the hair dryer – it was a bizarre contraption that only worked if you pulled it out at least a 90 degree angle from the wall. It was basically just a hose, which got very hot very quickly. No settings at all. I managed as best I could, but usually gave up before my hair was completely dry. I saw quite a few women with damp hair in the breakfast room :).

 

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We had a 9 p.m. reservation for dinner at the Osteria de Mamo. It was a quick but lovely walk, although it took us a few wrong turns to find the restaurant. The Mamo was cozy and charming, and the service was great. I didn’t love my pizza, but I think I just ordered the wrong thing – a white pizza that I wasn’t really in the mood for. My husband enjoyed his pizza, and we also shared some very garlicky bruschetta and a bottle of wine. The Tiramisu was excellent. Once dinner was over we were ready for bed. We had left Toronto at 9:00 pm the night before, so had been up for over 24 hours with only a few hours of dozing on the plane from Toronto to Frankfurt.

 

Venice Day 2

 

We enjoyed a good night's sleep. We had our window wide open, but after about 11 it was very, very quiet. Breakfast was a very nice buffet with pastries, breads, fruit, cheeses, yogurt, cereals and a coffee/cappuccino/espresso machine. Following breakfast we headed over to the Doge’s Palace for our 10:45 Secret tour. We had booked this online, and were really pleased with the tour. We toured the prison quarters, including some quite claustrophobic solitary confinement cells (including Casanova’s) and administrative offices. Our tour guide was excellent, and once the ‘secret’ tour ended we toured the rest of the Doge’s Palace (which is very different than the areas you see on the secret tour).

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After lunch we headed back out to the increasingly crowded streets. The area around St. Mark’s and the Rialto Bridge was very crowded, but once we got farther away we were often on empty streets, which was much more pleasant. We were heading over to La Zucca for lunch. It was a very nice walk, but I’m very glad we had the GPS on our iPhones to guide us. I’m not sure we would have found it otherwise! I had hoped we would be able to sit outside, but there were no empty tables available so were seated inside. But it was very pleasant inside – modern but cozy, and we had a nice view of the small canal and gondoliers. There were only a few customers inside. The service and food were very good. We started with a shared avocado salad, and then both enjoyed the zucchini lasagna, and we shared a bottle of rose. A really excellent meal.

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After lunch we wandered, and by luck came across a store that makes Venetian masks by hand. You’ll see masks for sale all over Venice but the vast majority are mass produced (and some probably made in China). I wanted something handmade, so I was thrilled to stumble across this place. The gentleman in the store was making the paper mache masks as we walked in. They had a large selection to choose from, and eventually I settled on one for me and one for my son. I think they were about 20 Euros each, which I thought was very reasonable. He wrapped them carefully and they made it home without breaking. Whew!

 

At 4:30 we met up with Alessandro Schezzini at the top of the Rialto Bridge. Alessandro is recommended by Rick Steve’s in his videos and books, and we had pre-booked a walking tour and also a ‘pub crawl’ tour with him. We really enjoyed both very much. Rather than talk in great detail about the history of Venice and it’s buildings and canals, Alessandro focussed more on the life of Venetians today, and the challenges they (and their buildings) face. We walked back streets that were empty, and Alessandro was funny, interesting and charming. After the walking tour, we stayed with him (as did most of group of about 22) to do the ‘pub crawl’. We visited three different pubs, although we only went inside one. There was PLENTY of wine provided at each stop (all red), and cicchetto (nibbles or tapas) at the first two. We loved the snacks at the first two, but not so much at the second. Still, it was all part of the fun. The last pub was called Amerone, and we drank – appropriately enough – Amerone. I LOVE Amerone, but it’s expensive (even in Italy) so this was a real treat. The tour was so much fun, and I think most of us were quite tipsy by the end :) The walking tour was 15 Euros per person, and the pub crawl was 30 Euros including the food and drink. I highly recommend both.

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It had been a long and great day, but it wasn’t over yet! We had purchased tickets online to Interpreti Venezi, a Vivaldi concert at the San Vidal church. The concert and setting were both lovely.

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After the concert we were hungry (we enjoyed the nibbles on the pub crawl but it wasn’t quite enough for dinner). Unlike Rome, Venice shuts down quite early and it was now almost 11 pm. We found a restaurant open (although it closed when were there), and had a totally forgettable meal. Finally, we walked through atmospheric but empty streets to our hotel.

 

Regal Princess Boarding – Day 1

 

After breakfast at our hotel, we walked to the Alilaguna Blue Line stop at St. Marks. Even with luggage (and we don’t really travel light – well I don’t!) it wasn’t too bad. We only had two bridges to cross, and it was early enough that the streets weren’t yet clogged with tourists. We found the Alilaguna stop with no trouble, and it was almost empty. We purchased our tickets easily at the ticket counter, and within minutes we were on board.

 

Now, we weren’t really that far from the port, but it took a lot longer to get there than we had expected. A few stops to pick others up, and a few stops in the water to let other ships go by. I didn’t really mind, it was all very interesting, but you certainly need to leave lots of time for this trip.

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Once at the dock it was a short walk to the Regal Princess boarding area. There were no porters, you simply handed your baggage to someone in the terminal who placed it on a conveyer belt. We had priority boarding, and we were there at about 11 a.m. The lines were short. At about noon we were on our way on to the ship.

 

The ship was of course exceptionally clean and new in appearance, and had still had that ‘new ship’ smell. We headed up to the Sanctuary immediately to book the next day (a sea day). Illarion, the manager from the Royal, remembered me from my cruise last December/January and was very helpful as always. After reserving our Sanctuary spots, we headed to the bar to purchase the All Inclusive package. The bar couldn’t help us and directed us to a stand by the Retreat pool that was selling the packages. The staff at the stand that was selling the beverage packages couldn’t help us, because they didn’t have any stickers yet! They directed us to a stand inside the Horizon Court, and finally we were able to purchase the packages and get the required stickers attached to our sea pass cards. We then headed down to our cabin, C626 on Caribe deck (picking up a beer and a sparkling wine on the way to christen our new All Inclusive packages). I like staying in the aft area of the ship as it’s close to the aft elevators and also the Horizon Court/Bistro/Terrace.

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After a quick lunch at the Horizon Terrace, sitting outside, we headed back into Venice. This time we took the People Mover – a very short ride to the Piazzale Roma. Once off the monorail we wandered around for a bit, window shopped a little, and looked for a place to enjoy a drink on the Grand Canal. Eventually we spotted a place that looked nice, but it was on the other side of the canal. We took a very short ride in a traghetto, one of the public gondolas, for 2 euros each. The entrance to the canal side bar was on our immediate right as we stepped from the traghetto, and we headed in.

 

The bar was in a hotel, and the lobby certainly looked very nice. We walked through the elegant bar to the canal side patio and chose a table in the shade. The waiter brought the menus and when I saw the prices I almost fainted :eek: Then I realized where we were - we had stumbled into The Gritti Palace, probably the top 5* hotel in Venice. When I saw the prices my first thought was that we should leave, but we decided it would be a once in a lifetime experience to have a drink there, so we stayed. The least expensive glass of wine I could find was a rose for 15 Euros (I think a beer was at least 11 Euros). But the view was wonderful, the service impeccable, and they brought a very nice selection of nibbles to the table. The washrooms were gorgeous. I’m so glad we stayed.

 

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After our memorable visit to the Hotel Gritti, we were ready to head back to the ship. We had spent all the previous day walking, and after a few more hours on our second day, my feet and legs were worn out. Each bridge we had to cross to get back to Piazzale Roma loomed ahead like a mountain to be climbed. We stopped at a small grocery store to pick up two bottles of wine, boarded the People Mover, and were soon back on board.

 

We headed to the Ocean’s Terrace for a martini and a Crab Lime Margarita. At some point that day we also got a gelato, expecting that it was included in our All Inclusive Beverage package as I had read here on Cruise Critic. But the server in Gelato said it wasn’t, Passenger Services also said gelato wasn’t included. Then they said it was, then they said it wasn’t. The bar manager at the International Café said it was. Eventually we gave up trying to confirm the facts, and just accepted the $8 charge on our account.

 

Our muster station was in the Wheelhouse Bar, and the drill scheduled for 9:30 (although all-aboard was 10:30?). We ate dinner in the dining room that evening, which was almost empty. We both ordered the Prime Rib, and as I reported here while on board, it was sadly the worst meal I have ever had on a cruise ship. The meat was a totally consistent pink, SPAM colour with no variations around the edges (I had requested the beef to be medium) with a jelly-like texture, and no flavour at all. It looked like big slab of microwaved mystery meat. We both stopped eating after one bite, and just ate our baked potatoes. Before we had really finished our meal other passengers were arriving and sitting around us in their life jackets as the dining room was their muster station. Even a few staff were wearing their life jackets. It was a strange, very unsatisfying dinner. Unfortunately, with the exception of our dinner in the Crown Grill which was very good, we didn’t enjoy any of our dinners on board. We did have dinner in Istanbul in the Horizon Terrace, and it was not too bad, but we just were not impressed at all with the food in the dining room. The only thing I really enjoyed was the Crème Brulee.

 

For sail away we headed up to the Sea View bar. It was a l

Edited by SeaCBear

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I always forget how to include images on CC, but now I've remembered but too late to edit my post. I'll be sure to embed them properly for the next review installments. But the images missing from above are below:

 

Water taxi ride to & through Venice

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Hotel Gorizia

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Secret Tour of the Doge's Palace

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So, now I can post images from Flickr (although not using the embed code Flickr provides) but they're all huge. Can anyone tell me how I can post a smaller size from Flickr? I've done this in the past, but not since Flickr changed their interface.

 

Thanks for anyone who can help!

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Thanks Working 2 Cruise - Jasperdo has kindly given me the secret, so my next Regal Cruise Review installments will have photos that look like this. Much better!

 

p><blockquote data-ipsQuote="" class="ipsQuote" data-ipsquote-username="Working 2 Cruise" data-cite="Working 2 Cruise" data-ipsquote-contentapp="forums" data-ipsquote-contenttype="forums" data-ipsquote-contentid="1969782"><div>Sorry I can

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I’ll warn everyone in advance now that I tend to write very long reviews....

 

o.k. - in that case I'll make a pot of tea first :D

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Wow! Your review is fabulous - I love the embedded pics - I'm having no problem with them loading! It's great to see photos of the ship with people in it.

 

Looking forward to the next instalments & reading about the rest of the adventure!

 

: )

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Thanks for the review. It's a great read (and a nice cup of tea).

Shame about the food in the MDR.

Look forward to part 2....

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Day 2 – Sea Day

 

I woke up just in time on our first full day, and our first (of two) sea days, to see the sun rising. I grabbed my iPhone and managed to take a few shots without even getting out of bed.

 

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After the very busy few days before it was nice to have a slower morning. We had the Sanctuary booked ($40 a day per person) but we didn’t plan to get there at the opening time of 8:30. We got ready and headed to the buffet for our first on board breakfast. I really do love the Horizon Terrace on the Regal/Royal Princess. I’m not a sun worshiper, and prefer shade, and most of the Terrace is shaded. Service on the Terrace was usually excellent at breakfast and lunch, but non-existent on the one night we enjoyed dinner there while in Istanbul. We used our AI packages to get our cappuccinos and espresso’s (and on one morning, a Mimosa for me :-). At home breakfast for me is always low-fat Greek yoghurt with berries. So I tried to not go crazy on the ship, and often just got a boiled egg with a little bacon. I liked the flavour of the little biscuits, and they varied each day (cheddar, or sage, etc.) but because they’re small they dry out and harden very quickly.

 

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We arrived at the Sanctuary at about 9:30, and plopped down on our lounge chairs. We prefer the chairs at the very front (bow) in either the left or right corner (port or starboard), as the view is great and there is shade for much (but not all) of the day. This location is also a little quieter and feels more private. Illarion brought the staff who would be serving us for the day over to meet us, and our citrus and cucumber waters.

 

In my family we all love the Sanctuary (my son and I loved it on the Royal at New Year’s). The staff and service are wonderful, it’s peaceful and quiet… oh, wait a minute – not always. It SHOULD always be peaceful and quiet – hence the name ‘Sanctuary’, so I really can’t understand why the ship designers thought that adding large TV’s to the cabanas would be a good idea. We spent 2 ½ days in the Sanctuary on this Regal Cruise and on 1 ½ of those days someone in the cabana was playing the TV loudly. It really disturbs the mood and ambiance I think. But, other than this issue, we loved our time there and while I know many feel strongly about the fee, for us we feel it’s worth the splurge.

 

 

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We spent most of the day there, but we did stretch our legs at one point when I gave my husband a guided tour of the ship (having sailed on the Royal at New Year’s with our son). I didn’t take a lot of photos, because I had already taken a LOT of photos on the Royal (see the link in my signature if you’d like to see those images). I did, however, take a picture of the new glass walls that have been added to the cabanas in the Retreat pool area, as those were not included on the Royal.

 

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At lunch we headed down to Alfredo’s. My son and I had raved to my husband about Alfredo’s – we loved it on the Royal, and went there at least three times – so my husband was really looking forward to this lunch. The Sanctuary manager had forewarned us that there was now a $10 cover charge per person, but he said it would be covered by our AI package. This was confirmed to us at the entrance of Alfredo’s by the manager. We were seated by the window, and enjoyed chatting with our server who was from Mexico (we’ve been to Mexico many times so we had fun talking about different vacation spots there). Unfortunately we were a bit underwhelmed by our lunch. My pizza was soggy, the crust was too thick, and it just seemed undercooked. My vegetarian antipasto was just OK – it wasn't as tasty as on the Royal. I’m going to chalk this up to new staff, new ship – just general growing pains. The Tiramisu was tasty.

 

I wanted a glass of French rose with my lunch (or two :-) ), but as I was sadly discovering this wine which I had enjoyed so much on the Royal, and which appeared on all menus on board, was not actually available anywhere on board. This was to become a bit of a theme during the cruise. I think the ship just wasn't yet fully stocked. The Italian Treat red wine flight I requested in the wine bar was not available because one of the three wines wasn't on board. (I did ask if they could just substitute another red wine –ANY Italian wine – but was told flatly “no”.) Hendricks was listed on the menu in Crooners, but when my husband ordered a Hendricks martini there he was told they had no Hendricks. The funniest example was in the Horizon buffet. I was using the tongs to look through the bacon. A member of the cook staff came over and said, “Are you looking for crispy bacon ma’am?” I said “Yes, I am – thanks!”. He replied, “Sorry, we don’t have that.” Oh, OK.

 

The rest of the day passed peacefully in the Sanctuary enjoying the scenery with a bit of dozing, reading, a few drinks and afternoon tea. Eventually, it was time to leave (the Sanctuary closes at 6) and head back to the room to get ready for formal night. But on the way we stopped for a drink, I think in Bellini’s, and enjoyed the string quartet playing below.

 

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All gussied up, we headed over to Crooners and the Piazza, to introduce my husband to the concept of the Champagne Fountain. There are obviously many who enjoy this tradition. I don’t really understand why people want to line up to climb a few steps and then ‘help’ to pour a little champagne over a tower of glasses. I’m guessing it’s more about the photo opportunity, or the opportunity to meet the captain, although the captain wasn’t hosting (not sure if that’s the right word) the fountain that night. Please don’t misunderstand – I’m sure there are many things I enjoy that baffle others, and if the champagne fountain is something you enjoy doing that’s great. It’s just not for me. But we did enjoy watching women with sky-high heels cautiously, and with assistance, climb the three or four steps to reach the top of the glasses tower. What was REALLY sad however was watching after as they emptied all the glasses, full of sparkling wine, into buckets. Our server in Crooner’s told us, when I asked, that they just dump the wine down the drain. Now THAT’S tragic. ;-)

 

The British captain did speak to the gathered crowd after the champagne fountain. He was very personable and well spoken. He informed us of the top 10 nationalities on board. #1 US, #2 Canada, and the other eight (I can't remember the order) included Brazil, Mexico, Australia, the UK, Italy and Japan. He also noted there were almost 2,500 passengers on board, much less than capacity of course. The manager of the Sanctuary told us that this uncrowded ship (and it really was) was a deliberate decision to allow all staff, and particularly those who were brand new, to get used to the ship and passengers without the stress of a fully booked cruise. I recognized quite a few staff from the Royal.

 

Many of you will be pleased to hear that everyone I saw appeared to be appropriately dressed for formal night, including more tuxedos than I had expected to see.

 

I can’t remember anything about what I ate at dinner that night in the dining room, except that it was on Deck 5 (we had Anytime Dining) and the service was very good. I DO remember that when the photographer came to our table, my husband started to get out of his seat to join me on my side of the table for a photo. But the photographer stopped him and said no, tonight they were only taking solo portraits, and not couples. Huh? We didn’t want individual photos on formal night, and it seemed bizarre that he would NOT take one of the two of us in the dining room. I know there are many other locations on board where we could have taken a photos of us as a couple, but it still seemed unusual to us. After dinner we headed back to the Piazza and watched an acrobatic trio. It was entertaining and well done, but my husband joked, “You didn’t tell me they had Chippendale’s on board!” I didn't have a problem with it. ;-)

 

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I seem to be missing my Princess Patter (or Pitter Patter as we usually refer to it) for that day, but I think that was the night Annette Wardell, a British soprano, performed in the Princess Theater. We both like opera, but we left after two songs. Annette had a lovely voice, but she seemed a funny fit for Princess and listening to her sing Elvis and other popular songs just seemed wrong somehow… ha ha.

 

We ended the evening in the Wheelhouse Bar, which we enjoyed every night, usually watching and listening to Eric Stone. It was a great sea, and a much needed day of rest. The next morning we would arrive in Corfu.

 

Thanks for reading - congratulations on making it this far ;-)

 

To see all photos from this cruise, please click on the link in my signature below. Port photos are added as each day's review is posted.

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I wanted a glass of French rose with my lunch (or two :-) ), but as I was sadly discovering this wine which I had enjoyed so much on the Royal, and which appeared on all menus on board, was not actually available anywhere on board. This was to become a bit of a theme during the cruise. I think the ship just wasn't yet fully stocked. The Italian Treat red wine flight I requested in the wine bar was not available because one of the three wines wasn't on board. (I did ask if they could just substitute another red wine –ANY Italian wine – but was told flatly “no”.) Hendricks was listed on the menu in Crooners, but when my husband ordered a Hendricks martini there he was told they had no Hendricks. The funniest example was in the Horizon buffet. I was using the tongs to look through the bacon. A member of the cook staff came over and said, “Are you looking for crispy bacon ma’am?” I said “Yes, I am – thanks!”. He replied, “Sorry, we don’t have that.” Oh, OK.

 

 

For the inaugural cruise (at an appropriate cruise fare) not stocking the ship properly is inexcusable.

 

I wonder if the lack of crispy bacon is permanent or just a feature of the inaugural cruise.

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I wonder if the lack of crispy bacon is permanent or just a feature of the inaugural cruise.
Just the chef. There was tons of well-done, crispy bacon on the Royal last October. If there isn't any on a cruise, I ask for it and if they keep on coming back with soggy bacon, I keep asking until they come back with something I like.

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Day 3 – Corfu

 

I was excited to wake up to yet another glorious sunrise, and to be arriving for our very first visit to a Greek Island. I’ve always wanted to visit the islands, and had assumed they would all look, and be, very similar. I found out on this cruise that I was very wrong.

 

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Once again we headed up to the Horizon Terrace, and picked up our breakfast from the buffet. The views, as always, were beautiful.

 

We had rented a car with Royal Car Rentals, reserving a small manual transmission car for 40 Euros, including tax and insurance. We were off the ship by 8:30, and easily found the rental car agency in the port building. They greeted us by name (I guess no one else on our ship had reserved a car), and the paperwork was quickly completed. They did ask, very politely, if we would mind paying cash as the rental was only for one day. We had expected this as I had read that in Greece credit cards are not always welcome. We did pay with cash. The young woman then showed us, on a map, a suggested tour for the day including the sights to see and in which order. We followed her advice and it worked out perfectly. Then she took us to our car which was small, quite new and very clean. She, and all the staff at Royal were so friendly and helpful and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in booking a car on Corfu.

 

Following her directions, we set out for Paleokastritsa Beach, an easy 20-30 minute drive. The roads were good, and not busy. Driving in Corfu was very easy, unless you have a problem with VERY twisty roads (I got a bit car sick at one point).

 

Paleokastritsa Beach was quiet and beautiful. We parked in a parking lot and took a few photos, then got back in the car and headed up the hill to the monastery. Many were walking, but it is a very steep walk (and it was already feeling quite warm). A German woman at the bottom of the hill stuck out her thumb as we approached, and we stopped to let her in and give her a ride to the top. She was very appreciative and we made a little conversation on the way up.

 

The views from the monastery were great, and the monastery was worth a brief visit. We are serious animal lovers, so we liked seeing the many cats and one dog hanging around the monastery, but it was also a bit sad as they were all in very rough shape with open sores and wounds, and filthy. The dog’s fur was all matted. None of the animals seemed bothered about the hordes of people there, but they were also not at all interested in any affection or attention. There were even a few tiny kittens. After a quick tour around the grounds and a peek into the building, we walked back to the car to continue our tour.

 

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I had planned that we would stop at La Grotta for a coffee or cold drink. We found it without too much trouble and parked. There were many steps of varying sizes on the way down, and when we finally reached La Grotta, it was closed :-( We could have swam or stayed there, but it was definitely not open. They are apparently usually open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and beyond, but it just looked like they hadn’t yet opened for the season. I was disappointed, because the view really was beautiful. So we hiked back up (whew!) and got back in the car.

 

Our next suggested stop was another monastery. We didn’t actually find it, but we enjoyed the drive and did end up at a beautiful, almost deserted beach. We took a little walk, then got back in the car to drive up the very steep road we had just driven down. We continued on Achillion Palace. The palace and grounds looked lovely, but there were already many cars and tour buses, and we didn’t really feel we had time to do the palace justice, so we kept driving. We decided to head back to the town of Corfu to find lunch.

 

On the way to Corfu we stopped at one point so I could take a photo of Mouse Island. While doing that I spotted a bar/restaurant that looked like it had a spectacular view. So, we parked and walked in. It was almost empty, and we sat facing out to the island. It was an absolutely incredible view. The staff were friendly, the bathrooms very clean, the white wine and beer cold and dirt cheap – I loved this place! So if you’re heading to Corfu and have a car, stop by the Pontikonisi Café overlooking Mouse Island!

 

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I could have stayed all afternoon at the Pontikonisi Café, but it was time to move on. The drive into the town of Corfu was quick and interesting. You can’t drive into the centre of the town, but there is a large parking lot on the water. We were lucky enough to find a spot in the shade, and then we just started to walk the narrow, charming streets. Eventually we stopped at a “the oldest Greek restaurant in Corfu”, Aegli, for lunch. Our waiter was very charming and prompt. We sat outside and enjoyed delicious Greek food and some rose wine. All very good and very inexpensive.

 

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After lunch we just walked around the very picturesque streets, and I took a lot of photos. Corfu didn’t look like what I had expected, instead for some reason it reminded me quite a lot of Havana, Cuba which I loved when we visited four years ago.

 

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Finally we headed back to the car, back to Royal Rental Car (who greeted us like long lost family) and back to the ship.

 

Back on board we headed to the Horizon Terrace for a drink and to enjoy the view. This became our ‘go to’ place after returning to the ship after port visits. At 6:00 we went to the Princess Live theater to hear the port lecturer, Julio Delgados, talk about Istanbul. The theater was quite full, and we really enjoyed his talk. I thought he was quite charming with a gentle sense of humour, and he certainly gave us some useful information. We didn’t attend all of Julio’s lectures in person, but we did watch all of them on the TV in our cabin, usually while getting ready for dinner.

 

After dinner in the dining room that evening (again, I can’t remember what I had – I should have taken pictures of all my meals - next time!) we went to Crooners, and there for the first (and last time) we saw and heard “Piano Entertainer” Tom Franek. Now, Franek clearly has fans, but he just wasn’t for us. He was an excellent piano player, but not a great singer. And he was very showy in a ‘look at me!’ way. One night in the Piazza, when the band Evolution (who were outstanding) were playing below, he jumped up on top of his piano and started dancing and pretending to do a strip tease. Everyone below stopped looking at and listening to Evolution and instead looked up to watch his antics. The lead singer for Evolution did NOT look impressed. We just didn’t like his show at all, and spent most evenings in the Wheelhouse enjoying Eric Stone instead.

 

On this night there was also a short show in the Piazza by an Hungarian BMX Stuntman, Peter Sore. I don’t seem to have any photos – I think I was too busy watching him! But he was entertaining.

 

That’s all for our Corfu day. The next day we were arriving in Instanbul and I, and we think many others on board, were really excited. This was the ‘jewel in the crown’ port of the cruise.

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Looking forward to reading and seeing all the pictures you post. Actually the larger pictures were good too, but post them any size you want. Thanks for taking the time to do this review. We will be on the Regal Princess November 9th. Will have to post the link to your review on our cruise critic roll call.

 

Cheers - Ken & Darlene

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I am loving your excellent pictures and review. Enjoyed your Royal Princess pictures also. Thanks for taking the time to do this. It is appreciated !

Sali

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I’ll warn everyone in advance now that I tend to write very long reviews. Some people love long reviews, the more detail the better. Others prefer a more short, succinct and high level overview. If you fall into the latter camp, you should probably not read any further :).

 

SNIP

 

For sail away we headed up to the Sea View bar. It was a l

 

If I could make ONE suggestion! Please resize your posts so they fit on a standard screen. I'm at full screen and still have to scroll left-right to see the entire post (pictures and text). This is very disconcerting! Otherwise your posts are very interesting and thoughtful!

 

ADDING to my post AFTER I have seen the improvement/corrections made to the photo formats. MUCH, MUCH better! These are great! Keep up the great reporting!

Edited by #1winelover

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Thanks so much everyone. Your kind words are very much appreciated :)

 

I'm hoping to post the Istanbul review today.

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I did have a problem with the first day's review and yes, the photos were too large. That problem was resolved with the other daily reviews I have posted. Are you seeing large photos for all the reviews posted today? :confused:

 

 

If I could make ONE suggestion! Please resize your posts so they fit on a standard screen. I'm at full screen and still have to scroll left-right to see the entire post (pictures and text). This is very disconcerting! Otherwise your posts are very interesting and thoughtful!

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I did have a problem with the first day's review and yes, the photos were too large. That problem was resolved with the other daily reviews I have posted. Are you seeing large photos for all the reviews posted today? :confused:

 

I went back and EDITED my previous comment to include the improvements made to your later posts. Thank you very much!! The shots are beautiful and your reporting is top-notch! Keep up the great work! :D

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Whew! Thanks #1winelover - I was worried the problem was only fixed on my end! :)

 

 

I went back and EDITED my previous comment to include the improvements made to your later posts. Thank you very much!! The shots are beautiful and your reporting is top-notch! Keep up the great work! :D

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Another great read with my morning cup of tea.

Looking forward to part 3...

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Day 4 – Istanbul

 

We set our iPhone alarms to ensure we would wake up in time to enjoy the sail into Istanbul, and it was certainly worth seeing. The activity in the water around the Regal Princess was an indication really of the day to come – there was constant motion, and boat traffic and activity. The views were terrific – we’d already seen the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia before we’d even left the ship :-)

 

We were both so looking forward to our 1 ½ days in Istanbul, and we weren’t disappointed. It was a bit of culture shock, a sensory overload for the ears, eyes and nose, and absolutely fascinating. We had no excursions booked, but had a plan of attack for both days that we would be in Istanbul. We picked up a quick breakfast of cappuccino, espresso and Egg McMuffin’s in the International Café, and then left the ship.

 

Our plan was to take the tram into Sultanahmet, the old town of Istanbul, and our first stop would be to the Yerebatan Cistern. We didn’t have any Turkish lira, but had been told there was an ATM at the tram stop. We marched off the ship, and took a few wrong turns trying to get out of the port, but eventually found ourselves on the main road and the tram stop. There was no ATM at the stop, but we could see a few banks about a block away, so off we went. We had no trouble withdrawing our lira, but at this point we were toying with the idea of not taking the tram, and just walking instead. Julio, in his port lecture, had indicated it was probably a 35-45 minute walk. It was a beautiful day, and we’re both active and in pretty good shape, and we love to walk, so off we went.

 

Our journey began as an interesting walk, and evolved into a fascinating trek. The walk across the Galata Bridge provided beautiful views, and it was amazing to see all the fishermen (and they were all men) lined up.

 

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Once we’d crossed the bridge we headed towards, we hoped, the cistern. We probably took a few wrong turns, but didn’t really care because it was just all so fascinating. The streets were bustling with life and commerce. By accident we found ourselves at the Spice Market, and decided we might as well take a look as we were right at its door. The colours and scents were great, but we just walked through and didn’t buy anything. This was our first encounter with the many assertive sales people you encounter in Istanbul. We’re both quite quiet and not at all aggressive, so we’ve never really been comfortable bartering or haggling. We’ve done it when we’ve had to, in Mexico and other places, but it’s not something we enjoy as many do.

 

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Once we emerged from the Spice Market we continued to wind through the streets, passing various street peddlers, many stores selling made to order suits and other clothing, housewares stores, etc. And these stores were mostly full of locals at this point, not tourists. Eventually, after walking up hills, passing through a park that included a cat house, and asking for directions at a hotel, we found the Cistern. This was also our first exposure to one of the many helpful locals who want to help you find your way ;-) After pointing out various landmarks (the cistern, Hagia Sophia, etc.) they ask where you’re from, and other general questions and eventually you realize they want you to go back and look at their carpets :-) We didn’t see it coming the first time, but every other time we were approached with offers for directions we just started saying thanks, we know where we’re going, and we don’t want to buy a carpet! I know these guys are just trying to make a living, and they’re polite and friendly, but they’re certainly persistent and after you’ve been approached ten times in a day, it does get a bit old. OK, that is my only rant and complaint about Istanbul, because we really did love this city.

 

So, with the assistance of a helpful carpet salesman :-), we found the Cistern. There was a fairly long line, but it moved quickly, and once inside and underground it didn’t feel crowded in most areas, and it was wonderful and cool. I thought the cistern was quite magical and beautiful. We didn’t spend a long time there, but I’m so glad we saw it.

 

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After the cistern we were ready for lunch, so we set out to look for the restaurant I had selected weeks ago for lunch, Albura Kathisma Café. We took some time to take photos of the surrounding architectural wonders, including Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and then walked on. We got lost a few times (and we were using a GPS the whole time!) but that was all part of the fun. We found the restaurant, and I loved it as soon as I saw it. It was almost empty, and the servers were friendly and efficient. Lunch was wonderful. We began with a shared selection of Turkish appetizers, followed by chicken kebobs, all enjoyed with rose wine (can you tell I like rose wine? ;-) The food was so tasty, and the street view was busy but not bothersome. At the end of the meal they brought us complimentary apple tea, served in traditional small Turkish glasses. As we were leaving, our waiter invited us to tour the underground ‘palace’ – these were the ruins of a palace literally underneath the restaurant. Amazing. (Apparently while we were at lunch Turkey, including Istanbul, and Greece were hit by a major earthquake. Our waiters were quite excited about it, but we felt nothing!)

 

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After lunch we headed for the Grand Bazaar. Again we had a little trouble finding it, and eventually asked a very nice young man who was just standing with his motorcycle. We found the Bazaar, but really only walked through. I had thought we would spend much more time exploring the bazaar’s many streets, but it was so busy and we were continuously being pestered by men wanting to know if we wanted to buy a leather jacket (we’d progressed from carpet salesmen apparently), and I guess we just weren’t really enjoying it. We’re not really big shopper when on vacation, but I had hoped to pick up a few scarves at least in Istanbul. Eventually I did, but not in the Grand Bazaar.

 

We emerged into the light from the Grand Bazaar, and our next destination was the Hagia Sophia. Our hope, based on what we had read, was that it would be a little less busy at the end of the day. On the way we hoped to find a rooftop bar where we could enjoy a drink and a view of the Bosphorus (and also find a washroom :-). We passed a restaurant called the Fish House which advertised a rooftop bar. We asked if it would be possible for us to just have a drink, and they said that would be fine. Up three floors we went to the empty rooftop restaurant. We each had – well, you should be able to guess by know – a glass of cold rose. The view was quite impressive, and there was a nice breeze. The staff were very friendly, as was everyone we met in Istanbul. At one point my husband’s ever present binoculars were on the table. The waiter asked if he could try them. My husband said of course, and the waiter then put them up to his face – the wrong way round. Jeff showed him how to use them, and he seemed quite impressed. I don’t think he had ever used binoculars before. (A quick side note – the washrooms at this restaurant, and every restaurant in every bar or restaurant we went to on this cruise, was absolutely shiny clean and spotless).

 

We got to the Hagia Sophia after 5 and the line we joined was not really too long. But that didn’t stop a steady stream of men coming up to us asking if we wanted to hire them as a tour guide – they promised this would enable us to skip the line – which they assured us was going to take at least an hour, and would somehow be cheaper. We declined, and by the time the third man came up to us I just pretended I couldn’t speak English. Or German. Or Russian. :-) The man behind us, when asked if he spoke English, said “Yes I do. Go Away.”. Perhaps a bit rude, but funny, and I think by this point in the day we were just all tired of being pestered.

 

The line actually only took about 15 minutes, and then we were inside the Hagia Sophia. What an impressive structure. We covered the entire first and second floors, and took lots of photos. The size of the place is almost overwhelming. While there we heard the “call to prayer”, which really added to the experience.

 

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After this visit we were done. My feet were killing me, and I was ready to ‘go home’. We planned to take the tram home. We walked to the closest stop, and purchased tokens at the machine (with the “assistance” of some very aggressive little boys who tried to grab the change the machine spit out). We then went through the turnstile to wait for the tram. When it came it was absolutely packed. We watched people push and shove their way on, but we didn’t even attempt to. The next tram came, and it was the same mob scene. We gave up, and decided to walk back. After about 20 minutes we walked by the Imbat Restaurant, about which I’d read very good things. We asked in the lobby of the hotel if it would be possible to just have a drink in their rooftop bar. The desk person called up, and they said we could as long as were vacated the table by 7 as they were fully booked for the evening. No problem. Up we went, and I’m really glad we did. The views, including our ship, were great.

 

We let the Imbat and began our trek back, along the Bosphorus where all the night time boat tours were leaving, across the Galata Bridge, still full of fishermen (and a few women this time), past the stalls where men were cooking fresh fish or mussels, and finally on to the ship. I could barely walk by the time we boarded :-) We estimated we walked about 10-12 miles that day. I was really exhausted, but it was such an amazing, wonderful day, and I didn’t regret a minute.

 

Once on board we enjoyed our buffet dinner (this was actually my best dinner on board, other than the night we went to the Crown Grill), as we sat outside at the Horizon Terrace, enjoying the majestic view. I’m sure we had one of the best, if not THE best views for dinner in the entire city.

 

After dinner we watched the Orphea Band in the Piazza, from Crooners. I loved this band on the Royal, and my husband and I both thought they were really great again on the Royal. Then it was time for bed. It had been a very long, active, full, intense and very memorable day.

 

You can view all my photos of Istanbul here. All photos from our Regal Princess cruise can been by clicking on the link in my signature.

Edited by SeaCBear

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Love your review! Thx for sharing. Quick question, you mention your iPhones several times...does using the GPS cost money? Also, do you have a translator app you suggest or know if that uses wifi/costs money? Thanks!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Thanks makingmemories21! My husband and I are both techies, and our iPhones/iPads are always attached to us ;-) All the photos I took on our trip were taken with my iPhone 5S.

 

We were using OffMaps2, and MapsWithMe to help us navigate. As long as you download the maps you need before you go, you do not need WiFi for these apps. CityMaps2Go is also a good app to check out, and I also use Google Maps a lot.

 

For translation I like Word Lens or Translate. I hope this helps!

 

Love your review! Thx for sharing. Quick question, you mention your iPhones several times...does using the GPS cost money? Also, do you have a translator app you suggest or know if that uses wifi/costs money? Thanks!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Great review and pictures, thanks for sharing your experience. We loved Istanbul, found it to be a wonderful and exotic city.

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Jasperdo has kindly given me the secret, so my next Regal Cruise Review installments will have photos that look like this. Much better!

Glad I could help. Your photos are fantastic. And I'm really enjoying your detailed review.

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LOVING your review.

We originally had booked this cruise (the 20 day version) but had to cancel so it's so much fun reading your great descriptions and seeing all the pictures.

We loved the food on the Royal so am sorry to read it's not as good on the Regal. Hopefully they just need to get it all sorted out.

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Wow! I don't usually read reviews, but you are doing a great job both with the narrative and the pictures. But, I think I would have titled it as a blog or journal instead of review. Thanks for doing this.

Edited by billco

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I am so loving your review. We did this trip in 2010 on the Ruby so I am enjoying hearing about the Regal and your adventures bring back so many good memories.. Your pictures are great. It is amazing how well the iPhone camera makes such great pictures. Can’t wait for the next installment.

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