Photo by Jason Leppert
Sailing onboard the Ruby Princess from Princess Cruises with the line's fresh Come Back New campaign in full swing, it becomes clear that the cruise company is in position to offer an improved product. But well before the new offerings, Princess was already very popular among a loyal group of cruisers thanks to a core group of features.
With some exceptions, namely on the line's smallest Ocean Princess and Pacific Princess, travelers can generally expect the following on Princess Cruises.
Consistent Deck Plans and Design
The Princess Cruises fleet consists of a few different classes of vessels of varying size, but overall, the deck plans are similar and very consistent from ship to ship. In other words, it's hard to get lost. The shipboard aesthetic is also nearly identical across the public spaces and private accommodations with lots of pastels, beiges and browns.
Wild Architectural Elements
Despite interior uniformity, the ships are visually striking with bold exterior elements. The Grand class introduced the Skywalkers Nightclub, a floating deck at the stern reminiscent of a bridge or spoiler, and the new Royal and Regal Princess each sport the SeaWalk and SeaView Bar cantilevered over the sides of the ships with glass floors overlooking the ocean far below. Even the Coral and Island Princess feature nacelles on their smokestacks that look like something out of science fiction.
The hub of activity is focused on the central atrium, or The Piazza as Princess calls it. Mimicking Italian courtyards, guests will find a variety of dining and retail experiences here that successfully gather people for social interaction. Of course, paired with premium wines and chocolates, the wafting smell of complimentary fresh baked pastries at the 24-hour International Cafe and even pizza on some of the ships never fails to attract passersby.
In fact, offering some of the best pies at sea, Princess' pizza is another signature item. Whether baked poolside or in the atrium, the thin crust staple is a favorite. The new Royal and Regal Princess take it a step further with the sit-down Alfredo's Pizzeria for a more refined dining experience featuring a greater selection of house pizzas and secondary courses.
Unfortunately, one thing missing from the Royal and Regal Princess, replaced by Princess Live!, is the Explorers Lounge. Outfitted to look like an African nightclub with an exotic decor and collection of artifacts, the timeless venue serves as a wonderful activity center and auxiliary show lounge for live music, dancing and guest entertainers.
Another cozy lounge to relax in is the Wheelhouse Bar, a treasure trove of vintage nautical theming with dark woods and golden accents. Comfy chairs invite conversationalists and silent readers to stay for awhile, sipping on a cocktail amid the model clipper ships. Onboard the Ruby Princess, the new Salty Dog Gastropub has been partially carved out of this space.
Up on deck, The Sanctuary provides an adult-only respite from the rest of the ship with al fresco shade and special beverage, snack and massage services for a nominal fee. Padded loungers and cabanas rest among peaceful foliage for a spa-like retreat that is best in warm-weather climates like Mexico and the Caribbean. But even in Alaska, views from here are great.
Movies Under the Stars
Plenty of other lines have their own versions of poolside jumbotrons, but Princess Cruises' Movies Under the Stars (pictured above) is a more dedicated cinema experience complete with free popcorn and blankets at night. Beyond films, sports fans can enjoy the game, and concert aficionados can watch recorded musical performances.
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