20 New Royal Princess Highlights

| Tuesday, 12 Mar. 2013

Royal Princess will debut in June, 2013

Princess Cruises just issued a press release entitled "20 Things You Don't Know About Royal Princess" - the newest and largest Princess cruise ship yet, still under construction in Italy. The release says that when the ship debuts this June the main attractions will include its "soaring atrium and the dramatic over-the-water SeaWalk." But Princess further elaborates on other features of the ship that have not been mentioned to date, and I give MY personal point of view below each topic.

The "20 Things You Don't Know about Royal Princess" are:

1. New (and Complimentary) On-Demand Stateroom Programming - A new generation of in-room television entertainment will debut aboard Royal Princess, offering an extensive array of on-demand movies and other programming options. The entire library of hundreds of movies, as well as classic and contemporary television show episodes, will be offered free to passengers. The new system will also offer a live feed from the ship's television studio Princess Live!

Personally, as a cruiser who truly enjoys the unique style of relaxation I get from a sea voyage I love this idea. I did NOT know that Princess plans to offer all of this programming for free. That is a stark contrast to hotels and even some cruise ships where a pay-per-view movie can cost as much as $12.

2. Four Brand-New Original Production Shows - The Princess Theater aboard Royal Princess will debut four new production shows, including "Colors of the World," an experiential journey through the destinations visited by Princess ships; "Spectacular!" a colorful music extravaganza; "Sweet Soul Music," a tribute to rhythm and blues; and "What the World Needs Now," an elegant show celebrating the music and style of the '60s.

I admit, I didn't know the names of the shows, and while I don't recognize any of these production titles, I am sure they will be the biggest cruise shows Princess has ever produced since this is the line's biggest ship and theater.

3. Tea Tower with Sommelier and 250 Blends - Featuring a tea sommelier and a choice of 250 blends, tea lovers will revel in Royal Princess' unique tea tower located in the ship's central Piazza. Here passengers can enjoy pre-blended tea varieties or create their own custom flavors. The ship's tea sommelier, an expert on tea blends, will host tea tasting events and a new Royal Afternoon Tea Experience, inspired by some of the most famous tea spots in London.

For the many people who truly love tea I applaud Princess for this vast variety and for having a "tea sommelier." For people who understand the vast number of varietals, from real tea to organic herbal brews, this is an opportunity to not only learn more, but to actually taste and experience everything you want to know about tea.

4. Art & Architecture Mobile Tour - A new self-guided tour will enable passengers to explore the ship's extensive art collection using their personal smart phones or tablets. Passengers can enjoy the 30-stop tour at their leisure, or scan a QR code located at each artwork to discover interesting facts about the artist and their work.

Ships often have extensive art collections, many valued at over $1-million on a single ship, and they often go largely unnoticed by the passengers. Just having small plaques is not enough - this virtual tour which you can do at your leisure is the perfect way to spend an afternoon at sea.

5. Outdoor Art Installation by Marine Artist Wyland - Famous marine artist Wyland is creating a dramatic, custom piece of sea-inspired art that will be installed on the ship's top deck. The new work will be revealed during the ship's inaugural celebration in June.

Wyland's art galleries worldwide feature his vivid paintings and sculptures of sea life. This will be an original piece commissioned by Princess for the ship; making it unique and very valuable.

6. Flair Bartending Shows - The top-deck SeaView Bar will feature midday and sunset flair bartending shows where talented bartenders will entertain passengers with their impressive bottle-tossing and mixing skills.

Other cruise lines have "flair" bartenders and these guys and gals can be surprisingly talented. They make martini diving more than a cerebral experience - it's now an art form.

7. Whiskey Flights at Wheelhouse Bar - Inspired by the growing popularity of whiskey, the line's signature Wheelhouse Bar will feature a menu of three different whiskey flights - each featuring three whiskeys. Passengers can choose from single malts, three "Glens," and other iconic whiskey options, each featuring tasting notes.

This is for the people with Maltings in their blood - a chance to try the best whiskeys from a variety of regions. Great idea!

8. Daily Pub Lunch - Also in the Wheelhouse Bar, Princess' popular English pub lunch will now be offered daily. Previously available only on select sea days, Royal Princess will serve the full traditional pub-style lunch on all sea days - and on port days will offer fish and chips and a ploughman's lunch - along with signature brews.

This is also a tradition on the Cunard ships, and hails back to the British heritage of Princess' parent company, the "Peninsular and Orient Company" which is one of the largest shipping companies in the world, and a cruise line based in Britain.

9. Mobile Cruise Information Intranet - Princess@Sea, a brand-new mobile-friendly intranet site will enable passengers to easily access daily updates about entertainment, onboard specials, weather and port news, as well as review their onboard folio from their personal mobile or tablet devices.

An "intranet" is a "local" shipboard wi-fi network that only contains shipboard information, but will not include the world wide web. Best ofd all - this will be free to access as long as you have a wi-fi capable device (iPad, laptop, Android, etc) to access this intranet. Offering shipboard information to everyone via their personal phones is an excellent idea and something that every cruise ship should do, but so far this is the only ship I have heard about with an intranet that one can access without paying. Like all cruise ships, Internet access will still be a separate, chargeable service.

10. Royal Indulgence Package - New cabanas in The Sanctuary - which offer an array of exclusive treatments in this adults-only setting with incredible ocean views - will feature customized packages that range from $320 to $3,000, the latter for a "Royal Indulgence" package for four people. This exclusive experience will provide the ultimate in pampering with all-day massages and gourmet food and beverage offerings.

Wow, if you have an extra $3000 and can stand having "all-day massages," let me know if you need any company. I am married to an excellent professional LMT (licensed massage therapist) and even I have never had an all-day massage. Well… never mind.

11. Concierge Lounge for Suites - For the first time on a Princess ship, suite passengers can access an exclusive area to relax or work, with access to full front desk services, plus light snacks and beverages. Here, these passengers will have dedicated staff to assist with such things as shore excursions, specialty dining or Lotus Spa reservations. It will also be used as a private disembarkation lounge for suite passengers.

A concierge lounge is not new, you find them on Celebrity, Holland America and many other ships, especially Norwegian and MSC which have completely separate suite zones with private restaurants and decks for suite patrons. Nice to see Princess getting onboard, however.

12. Largest Gelato Menu at Sea - Whether passengers prefer vanilla, chocolate, dulce de leche, or butter pecan, Royal Princess' charming new gelateria will serve up the largest variety of creamy Italian-inspired gelato and ice cream creations at sea. Gelato will feature a menu of eight delicious flavors prepared by the ship's pastry chef, plus more than 20 toppings and sauces, and specialty items such as sundaes, waffle cones and sweet crepes.

I don't want to burst their bubble, but I don't think eight flavors is the record for gelato flavors I have seen at sea. On MSC Cruises' Fantasia-class ships there is a special gelateria and tapas bar with a huge selection of gelato. Oceania's Riviera also had many flavors - no charge. I could be wrong however, because I thought Princess ships had more than eight.

13. Sabatini's Bites and Flights - As the line's signature Sabatini's Italian restaurant will be located right next to Vines on deck 5, the wine bar will now offer Sabatini's Bites to accompany its popular wine flights. Passengers can sample small bites of such dishes as Tuscan Brochettes, Beef Carpaccio and Lamb Chop Lollipops.

I will certainly welcome this. For those of you who have never experienced Princess' special Italian treat Sabatini's let me tell you it is like a non-stop orgy of food that leaves you wondering where they placed the vomitorium. Um, that is a good thing, a vomitorium was something the ancient Romans invented so they could indulge in dining all night long.

14. Largest Outdoor Movie Screen at Sea - Princess was the first cruise line to introduce this innovative offering in 2004. Aboard Royal Princess, not only is the Movies Under the Stars screen 30 percent larger than our current screens, it will be the largest at sea.

I am pretty sure I did already know this one. That's one.

15. Touch Screen Photo Finder with Facial Recognition Technology - The Royal Princess photo gallery will feature digital kiosks that use facial recognition technology to help passengers find all of their photographs. Passengers can save favorites, customize prints, and take advantage of special packages, all from the convenience of the kiosk.

These are now ubiquitous throughout the cruise world, and have been for a few years.

16. Princess Live! All Day Programming - The new television studio aboard Royal Princess, a first for Princess, will be a lively place, featuring programming throughout the day from 8 am until midnight. Passengers will enjoy live talk shows, demonstrations and performers here, including the daily Wake Show. With seating for just under 300, the space will give passengers a more intimate opportunity to meet the ship's entertainers, play games and enjoy refreshments with the dedicated café.

I did NOT realize the idea was to keep Princess Live open all day, just the opposite. I assumed it would only open for the morning show, and occasional special performances and lectures in the afternoons or evenings. It will be interesting to see how they fill out the day of programming.

17. Four Different Water and Music Shows - The ship's central pool area will feature daily and nightly performances of four separate themed sequences comprising dancing fountains, special music and live performers. The Movies Under the Stars screen will also be incorporated as an additional show element.

I had already heard about the computer-programmed music, laser light and water fountain techno-expositions, but I did not know they have four different shows. This is a fun idea, and at night, especially with the MUTS screen I am sure it will be amazing.

18. Largest Collection of Super Tuscan Wines at Sea - More than 20 choices of these headline-making wines from Tuscany will be available in Sabatini's. Ranging from recognizable Super Tuscans such as Masseto, Solaia or Tignanello to some lesser known vintages such as Castello del Terricio 'Cappuanino' or Il Bruciato Bolgheri, these wines will be featured by the bottle and in a new Sabatini's Super Tuscan Wine Tasting event, where passengers can enjoy the rare opportunity to sample the wines accompanied by delicious small plates from the Italian restaurant.

This is appropriate for me since I always associate Princess cruises with this beautiful region of Italy. I have been on two Mediterranean voyages on Princess Ships and in both cases I enjoyed every single day. Needless to say, Italy is always a big part of any Med. cruise.

19. Largest Complimentary Pizza Restaurant at Sea - Alfredo's Pizzeria, already a passenger favorite on several vessels, will take Princess' reputation for serving the best pizza at sea to a new level. With 121 seats, Alfredo's aboard Royal Princess will be the largest such pizza restaurant at sea, and will feature an expanded menu of freshly prepared Neapolitan-style pizzas, calzones, flatbreads and baked pasta.

Stop - you're making me hungry for pizza and its only 10:30 in the morning. I love flatbread pizza. This is a great idea, especially at no added cost. I could live on this alone (and the gelato) for the entire cruise.

20. Princess' Greenest Ship - Royal Princess has been designed to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, making it the line's greenest ship. Some of the key areas of focus include the ship's extremely efficient hull and propeller design, which requires the same energy as the line's smaller ships to drive it; a distributed air conditioning system with a large number of fan coil units rather than a centralized system; usage of low energy lighting throughout the ship with an emphasis on LED; the addition of variable speed drives to the biggest electrical consumers such as ventilation fans; a tunnel washer in the laundry which will reduce water consumption; and the introduction of additional monitoring of the ship's overall energy usage.

Three cheers for lower carbon emissions. Not the sexiest topic, which is why it is at the bottom of the list, but good for you, Princess!

Are you going on Royal Princess? Tell us here: Princess Cruise Forum

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