Stern's Guide to the Greatest Resorts of the World, Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation, Stern's Guide to European Riverboats and Hotel Barges, and The Indispensable Guide to Foreign Words and Phrases--by Steven B. Stern (Sponsored by Stern's Travel Guides, Ltd.)
On June 13, The Duchess of Cambridge, as Godmother officially named Princess Cruises' newest ship, Royal Princess, in a windy and overcast ceremony in Southampton. In late October the ship first make its appearance in the United States at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The media and travel agents were invited for a complimentary two night cruise (to nowhere). In addition to having the run of the ship with plenty of time to enjoy the numerous facilities and entertainment options, we also attended some informative explanations focusing on the innovations found on the ship.
The small media group was segregated from the thousands of travel agents and hosted the first evening to a cocktail party at the Vines wine bar accompanied by some special hors d'oeuvres, followed by dinner in the main dining room. The second evening the cocktail party took place at the Wheel House Bar with dinner at the adjacent Crown Grill steak house restaurant. What stood out on both evenings was the plethora of upscale offerings on the menus.
The 141,000-ton, 3,600-passenger, 17 deck vessel can accommodate up to 3,560 passengers in 1,780 staterooms and suites. Stateroom size varies from 175 square feet for an inside cabin and 185 square feet for a balcony cabin up to 243 square feet for a mini-suite and 332 square feet for a full suite. Full suite balconies measure 72 square feet, whereas all others are 36 square feet. Eighty percent of the staterooms have private balconies.
Among the new features found on board are a greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; the dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed enclosed walkway on the ship’s starboard side extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water; a dazzling water and light show; an expanded version of Princess’s signature adults-only haven, The Sanctuary; and the popular poolside theater, Movies Under the Stars.
On these ships, special dining experiences include Chef’s Table Lumiere; Crown Grill, a steak house which is combined with the Wheelhouse Bar; Sabatinis,an upscale Italian restaurant which is adjacent to Vine’s Wine Bar; and Alfredo’s Pizzeria. The Horizon Court Buffet, the casual dining,option has been redesigned with multiple stations to avoid long lines and provide a showcase for numerous ethnic offerings. There is even a special area here just for kids, and a dedicated pastry shop. These ships also feature expanded entertainment options in additional locals.
I look forward to taken a full cruise on the Royal Princess so as to have time to enjoy all of the facililties and numerous venues.
Steven B. Stern (author of Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation)