Regal Princess: The Family Experience
“Where are you headed this winter?”
“Cruising the Caribbean!”
“Oh! Where are you leaving the kids?”
The Regal Princess out to sea.
If this conversation sounds familiar, you’re not alone. A cruise was once considered the escape of choice for romantic interludes or days of peace and quiet at sea. Boarding a megaship with children? Not so much. But as bringing children along on holidays becomes the norm and as cruise ships ramp up their family-friendly offerings, that way of thinking is a thing of the past.
Family cruising is a specialty of Princess Cruises (800-774-6237), with ships sailing out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale to multiple Caribbean destinations. The newest of the fleet, the Regal Princess, is a gorgeous vessel with such dramatic details as a soaring atrium with gilded accents and a clear glass walkway jutting beyond the top deck, 128 feet above the ocean. (Kids, by the way, love this.)
But the experience—especially where children are concerned—goes beyond the ship itself. During Caribbean sailings, families can bond over activities that bring the generations together in adventure and fun. Among the offerings: swimming with dolphins, horseback riding on the beach (and through waves!), ziplining across tree tops, 4×4 safari tours and sailing an America’s Cup racing yacht.
In St. Thomas, for example, a favorite excursion is underwater scooting, which allows adults and children aged 10 and older the opportunity to explore the deep without diving. Participants don a breathing helmet and board a BOSS (Breathing Observation Submersible Scooter), then descend to the dive site for close encounters of the marine kind.
In St. Maarten, a great option for families is the lagoon kayaking adventure, which winds through Simpson Bay Lagoon en route to a secluded beach for swimming. It’s a good way to see the scenery and get some exercise.
Sea days can be fun, too. The Princess Pelicans program lets kids aged 3 to 7 drop in and hang out for as long as they’d like. It’s not all movies and video games, either. Little sailors can take part in treasure hunts, create crafts and compete in their very own Olympics while Mom and Dad take in an early show or enjoy a rare dinner for two.
While the Regal Princess is a big ship, there are ways to make the experience more personalized and intimate. Suites come with access to a private concierge lounge, where you can relax away from the crowds—and have the benefit of a dedicated concierge to book excursions, dinner reservations or spa appointments. For dinner, specialty restaurants Crown Grill and Sabatini’s offer a fine-dining experience in spaces that don’t feel cavernous. For foodies, the Chef’s Table is a must. After a galley tour to watch the chefs prepare dinner for about 3,000 people, dinner is served on a special table separated from the rest of the dining room by a light curtain. The Chef’s Table menu is not offered anywhere else on the ship—and neither is the personal interaction with the chef.
The Chef’s Table
The dining experience onboard Princess ships has been elevated further by the addition of Chocolate Journeys by Southwest Florida-based chocolatier Norman Love. Aside from savoring the chocolate confections, guests can partake in chocolate cooking demos and chocolate spa treatments. Or, simply sip a chocolate chili margarita. Now that’s sweet.