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For a bit of fresh air, why not step in one of the nine elevators and head up to deck 12. Here is Regal Princess' spacious Pool Deck, featuring two nicely sized swimming pools, plus two Jacuzzis (two more can be found aft on Aloha Deck). One of the pools sports a waterfall, while the other even has a swim-up bar which means there is no need whatsoever to come out of the water. Other than most other cruise ships, there is direct access to the amidships stairwell from the Pool Deck, right between the two pools. Here, set in gleaming teak wood panels, oversized portholes grant an underwater view of the swimming action. No pictures, please!

The Pool Deck is overlooked by a rather narrow walking deck running all the way aft up on deck 13. Although the Pool Deck is large, it is basically the only spot to lie in the sun. So if you're allergic to the calypso sounds of the resident poolside band and still want to catch up with the sun, your best bet will then be to grab a lounge chair on that beautiful teak wooden Promenade Deck down on deck 7. The other passengers will enjoy the fun & games around the pools, both of which are open around the clock in typical Princess fashion. The lively Characters Bar opens up directly to the Pool Deck and has been a hit ever since the ship started sailing. If you're in search of that wild, exotic cocktail, be sure to drop in here! Next door is Bravo, the ship's own Pizzeria. The food here is included in the fare and the Pizzeria is open from lunch to late.

In Cafe Del Sol, aft of the Pool Deck, you are welcome to grab a snack or two (or three) around the clock. Cafe Del Sol looks very much like the Horizon Court restaurants on the Sun Princess and Grand Princess class ships, with rattan chairs, banquette seating and a great view of the sea through floor to ceiling windows. From 4:00 am to 6:00 pm, all food is served buffet-wise. At night you will be able to enjoy casual  "Bistro A La Carte Dining" from a set menu, served to your table by a waiter. All food at the Cafe Del Sol is again included in the cruise fare.

One thing that sets Regal Princess (and her sister) apart from other cruise ships is the dolphin head atop of the bridge. The Dome is one-a-half decks high, takes up the full width of the ship and has a magnificent whalebone-like structure. On Regal Princess, the room serves as Observation Lounge, Nightclub and Casino. Unfortunately, this is not a very successful combination and it most certainly does not do any justice to the magnificent design of the dome itself.  During the day, the room is dark and not very inviting, while at night the shape of the Dome echoes the noise of one-armed bandits. Too bad really; it should be fantastic to have the Dome turn into a glamorous nightclub at night, without any casino sounds. 

Well, it is about time to have something to eat and it so happens lunch is served in The Palm Court Dining Room aft on deck 7. The room was remodeled a couple of years ago to sport a look that is more in line with the dining rooms on the other Princess ships. So expect lots of wood accents, comfortable seats, pastel colors and few tables for two. The Palm Court Dining Room is very large, but the high ceiling, the attractive artwork and the abundance of  windows make it feel less cavernous than it actually is. Oh, and my lunch was excellent!

Before we reluctantly leave Regal Princess, we should not miss the last of the major public rooms on board. On Dolphin Deck (8), directly aft of the International Show Lounge balcony is The Stage Door, Regal Princess' nightclub and disco. The room has an interesting layout, with a large sunken dance floor and raised seating areas on both starboard and port side.  There is a semi-circular bar on one side and I have been told this room can rock until the wee hours of the morning on some cruises.

Last, but not least we have a peek at the Spa facilities deep down on deck 1, Holiday Deck, before climbing up to Plaza Deck where the gangway is located. We say goodbye to Regal Princess, a truly unique ship within the Princess fleet. She is an extremely spacious vessel and is being maintained exquisitely. The layout of her public rooms is such that you can almost call the ship "intimate", which is a compliment to her designers who have managed to incorporate a small ship feeling into a 70,000 ton vessel. Now, if they would just relocate the casino and make the Dome the design highlight it deserves to be!

 

All photos and text: 2003 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com

Originally published on July 5, 2003. This version published on July 22, 2007

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