UK Summer Seacation - Princess Cruises

Pippa Wilson on 21 August 2021
With travel in 2021 being so uncertain and restrictions and traffic light rules constantly changing, many people decided to stay closer to home. I decided that I would try out one of the UK sea-cation cruises that were on offer around the UK coast and booked a 3 night, 4 day cruise sailing from Southampton in August with Princess Cruises on their ship ‘Regal Princess’.

I took my best friend Jackie with me and it was the first time either of us had every cruised so a completely new experience for us both. We booked the ‘Princess Plus’ package and Jackie asked if this was because we were overweight but we soon discovered that Princess Plus meant an upgrade to a balcony stateroom, with all gratuities included, Internet and the food and drinks package.

From the moment we arrived on the boat we were given a warm welcome from the ships staff, who we learned were from over 40 countries. They were so friendly and warm and always helpful when we got lost or had questions. The ship was beautiful, very ornate and immaculately presented. Capacity wasn’t too high – they can take 3500 guests but there was around 2000 on board. We made our way to our balcony stateroom where we found our suitcases has already been delivered. We had a twin room and it was really quite spacious. The shower room was adequate – spotless of course and a good pressure shower. We also had tea and coffee making facilities, a desk/dressing table and plenty of clothes storage with hundreds of hangers.

After a quick unpack we headed up to the top deck for the ‘sail away’ party. We found somewhere to sit and used our apps on our phone to order some cocktails and a snack. Having previously been given ‘medallions’ which act as our room keys and also personal locations so that anything we order is delivered to us, wherever we are on board the ship. There were a few teething issues with the tech but when it worked it really was an excellent concept. Our ship played the love boat theme on its horns and the call and response was replied to by our sister ship, Sky Princess, as we sailed past their Southampton mooring. We were asked to wear masks when moving around the ship and where social distancing wasn’t possible and this was adhered to. The only time it was a bit of a pain was in the theatre. All restaurants were covered apart from a couple of the speciality restaurants. We didn’t want to spent anything extra so decided not to go for the speciality dining but we certainly didn’t need to. The food in the main dining restaurants, Concerto and Allegro was second to none and the service was spot on. All drinks less than $12 in price was included – which was basically everything except some top champagnes and whiskies. We had no reason to pay for anything extra at all and could relax and order whatever we wanted without worry.

There was a good program of events and the theme for this cruise was Mind Body and Soul. Guest speakers on board were Jenny Ryan (Mind) from the quiz show, the chase, Dr Ranj Singh (Body) TV doctor and famed for Strictly Come Dancing and Kate Bottley (Soul) from Songs of Praise and Gogglebox. They were also often seen around the ship and were happy to pose for photographs and chat to people. Their formal shows were well attended (socially distanced seating) and were highly entertaining. Kate Bottley is outrageous!!

As all guests had to be double vaccinated there were no young people on board but it was a great age range from early 20’s to late 60’s and it never felt stuffy or too formal. Everyone really relaxed and let their hair down, assisted by the free flowing wines and cocktails of course.

On Saturday evening Gareth Gates entertained us with his dulcet tones and emotive piano playing and even though dancing wasn’t allowed, there was lots of seat dancing and arm waving from the back rows. It all felt rather too short however and before we knew it we were watching the sun rise over Southampton as we sailed back into port.

Overall verdict is that this will certainly not be my last cruise. It was my first and it gave me a good appetite for more as I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be looking to try other cruise lines and other routes. I do also think that there is a market for the UK sea-cations even beyond the pandemic. We have a great coastline in the UK and the price makes it a great option for a short break away and a very good chance for first time cruisers to see if they like it.