Princess Cruises Update
Photo: Movie night © PRINCESS CRUISES
PRINCESS CRUISES IS THE QUINTESSENTIAL mainstream cruise line, combining all one expects from a large vacation at sea with some enticing innovations. Now owned by Carnival, Princess operates a fleet of 17 ships calling on more than 300 ports around the world. With the exception of one small ship, the 670-passenger Pacific Princess, the vessels carry from 2,000 to 3,500 passengers, providing a full-bore, resort-at-sea experience, replete with casinos and spas, deck lounges and pools, Broadway shows, shops, movies and activity centers, not to mention dining options galore from buffets to bistros to fine, specialty restaurants.
Thus equipped, Princess can be all things to all passengers. For families, there are connecting staterooms and two-bedroom family suites, as well as three separate activity centers designed for kids ages 3–7, 8–12 and 13–17. Adults have special places, too, led by The Sanctuary, an oasis of serenity with private lounge chairs and cabanas.
While offering a fine traditional cruise with resort facilities, Princess is noted for introducing several major innovations such as its Movies Under the Stars, shown on a 300-square-foot poolside screen. Recently, Princess used the same facility to stage tailgate parties during big-screen “Game of the Week” broadcasts. In addition to presenting large Broadway productions, Princess sponsors original creations devised by Stephen Schwartz, composer of such hits as Wicked and Godspell. Princess’ newest innovation is the Ocean Medallion, a disc-shaped device that functions as a shipboard ID, credit card and room key.
Since Princess Cruises is not an all-inclusive luxury line, passengers do face extra charges for nearly every “extra.” Those who book select 2018 and 2019 cruises, however, can take advantage of the Sip + Sail all-inclusive beverage package.
Princess offers a virtually unparalleled choice of destinations, with cruises ranging from Europe and South America to New England and Canada. Its newest mega-ship, the 3,560-passenger Majestic Princess, is based in Shanghai in the summer and Sydney in the winter. And, after a four-year absence, Princess returned to the Caribbean with summer departures from Fort Lauderdale, many featuring the Panama Canal.
Perhaps nowhere has Princess Cruises made a more profound mark than in Alaska, where seven of its ships provide 130 departures from Anchorage, Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco and even Los Angeles. Princess, as the largest carrier in Alaska, knows those waters well. Its popular Cruisetours combine a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise with three- to eight-day land tours of the 49th state, utilizing an exclusive Princess Alaska rail service with accommodations at its own Princess Wilderness Lodges. Princess recently increased its Alaska capacity by some 15 percent, but these May-through-September cruises can sell out well in advance. Delivering fine vacations at reasonable fares, it’s little wonder Princess voyages are highly popular, whatever the destination.