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Pati Smith

Age: 53

Occupation:Admin assist

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Imperial Majesty

Ship: Regal Empress

Sailing Date: February 16th, 2006

Itinerary: Nassau, Bahamas

First a little bit about us, just so you know what mind-set we come from. We are generally the glass-half-full type with a sense of humor and tend to go with the flow. This was our first cruise and we picked the Regal Empress mostly because we knew it was just a 2-night trip. If we found we were not the cruise-type, we could easily “tough it out” for that short period of time. If we loved it, we could easily book another cruise. Happily for us, we did in fact love the cruise but would probably not return to the Regal Empress for another trip. Not because we experienced anything negative, we just rarely retrace our steps. There’s so much out there to do in the world, who wants to repeat anything?

As mentioned in other blogs, the length of time it took to process our boarding paperwork was long; about 40 minutes. We arrived on the early side of the suggested time and didn’t wait overly long at any one of the 7 or so registration tables, so things generally kept moving. The length of the wait was mostly due to there being so many stations to check in with. Everyone we encountered was pleasant and we experienced none of the surliness some other bloggers mentioned. Surprisingly, I was fine with the wait as the cruise line did an admirable job with security. Just one note: we met a woman on board who had lost her driver’s license which was to serve as her 2nd form of ID. She was not allowed off the ship for any of the excursions because of that. They’re that serious about security. At the end of the checking-in process, they showed us a wine menu so we could select wine for dinner that night. It sort of blind-sided us, not knowing we would have to make that sort of decision while we were so far away from that night’s supper. Also, know that you will be asked to decide if you want the early or late seating for dinner as that decision is made when you check-in as well.

Our cabin was very clean but the décor was dated and somewhat worn. It had the feel of my grandparents’ shore house from the early 70’s. But again, life is what you make it, and so we enjoyed our retro days living with the melamine walls and Gerald Ford era fixtures. It soon became a running joke. Our cabin steward was fabulous, magically appearing each time we left the room to turn down or make the beds, change the towels, or tidy up. He was hard to understand, however, due to his thick Portuguese accent. If you can swing it, do try to upgrade your cabin. We were on the Main Deck and our cabin was comfortably cozy. We poked our noses in one of the lower cabins and were surprised at just how tiny a room can be! Having a window in our cabin did much to alleviate any sense of claustrophobia and the moon on the water was just so pretty! We did not notice any foul odors in the cabin or hallways. Some bloggers have said how offensive the diesel smell was . . . we had none of it.

Schedules were kept right on time. Dinner was served so promptly you could set your watch by it. Events began as posted and the ship sailed as scheduled. Punctuality clearly was a big thing to them.

Our dining partners were a real treat and we became fast friends. The meals were served promptly and were tasty and hot. Each day’s menu was varied and delicious. The lines at the buffet tables seemed to take a long time to navigate and we soon preferred the dining room. Drinks from the bar were good. Remember to save your souvenir glass so that refills on select drinks will be charged at a lower rate.

We did not swim in the pool. As luck would have it, the weather was on the chilly side. We wanted to bask in the sun poolside, but there were never any empty lounge chairs available.

There was a mandatory life boat drill. Having never been on a cruise before, I don’t know if this is standard, but it was executed very seriously on the crew’s part and went quickly.

The selection of excursions seemed to be a bit thin. The cruise director laid it on thick about how you shouldn’t go off the beaten path due to unsavory areas in town and that Nassau is mostly a banking center so there’s not much else to do except to buy an excursion that the ship would gladly sell you. We opted for the glass bottom boat ride which turned out to be great fun. We sailed up the waterway that separates Paradise Island from Nassau and the tour guide pointed out all the homes of the famous and wealthy along the way. We spent a generous amount of time over the coral reef as the tour guide attracted fish by tossing bread in the water. The price of the ticket included a glass of rum punch or fruit punch. Believe me, you had to use your imagination to taste the rum. But it was cold and tasty just the same. After all, it was free.

The second night was the captain’s reception in the Grand Lounge which was unimaginative and routine: canapés and drinks and the house band. The cruise director came out and told some pretty routine jokes, the band played, and the captain thanked us for sailing with him. The captain wasn’t much of a talker and seemed very uncomfortable in having to address a large crowd. After the reception, we wound our way to the dining room for dinner. At the close of the meal, we had some special entertainment that was unexpected and entertaining. I won’t spoil the surprise for you, but you’ll enjoy it. The last dinner was the final time you could buy any of the many professional photographs snapped by the house photographer over the 2 days. Anytime you get on or off the ship, remember there will be a camera looking back at you. Some times the roving photographer came upon us so quickly we barely had time to recognize our pix was about to be snapped and so, most of our photos were not worth the purchase price, but the one of us at the captain’s dinner was nice.

We had considered taking our 16 year old son with us and finally decided that we should check into cruising before bringing family. I’m glad we didn’t bring him as I’m sure he would have been bored with the trip, even as short as the trip was. The arcade room had outdated video games and the excursions would not have appealed to him. We did not check the disco to see what was happening there. We noted there were very few (2 or 3 at the most) teenagers on board, so the chance of our son finding someone to pal around with was slim. There were a few families with grade school-aged kids. Most of the passengers were adults traveling with other couples or just couples on their own. There seemed to be activities for young children, but we did not investigate them.

The debarking process was long. All passengers are asked to wait poolside until customs cleared the ship. I doubt it was customs, but rather the passengers who were tardy in squaring up their accounts that caused the delay. It seemed to take forever. Suddenly we turned around and noticed the deck was beginning to empty out. Lounge chairs had actually become available! No announcement was made that we were allowed to leave the ship; people just seemed to know it was time. The line to get off moved slowly; a number of people opted to carry off their own luggage which made those narrow hallways all the more narrow.

We started our trip with no expectations having never cruised before and having nothing to compare it with. The trip was lovely and romantic--perfect for Valentine's weekend! Remember to do your homework before heading out and you’ll have no negative surprises. Read all the entries on this site and keep an open mind. Relax, have fun, remember to go with the flow, and you’ll have a great time!

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