First Look: Island Princess

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

Island Princess
Vancouver's first cruise ship christening was a glittering affair July 11 as dignitaries and Princess executives gathered for the naming of Island Princess, the 92,000-ton, 1,970-passenger sister ship to Coral Princess. Beside the sails of Canada Place, Olympic champions Jamie Salé and David Pelletier broke a magnum of bubbly over Island's teak deck, poolside, as guests scattered around the upper decks cheered.

The second in this new class of ship, Island Princess cost $500 million to build. Like the Coral Princess, which debuted in January, Island has a variety of entertainment areas -- similar to the larger Grand-class vessels, but with fewer passengers. Princess believes in building big ships with a small-ship feel, so you'll find many cozy spots to hide away. Instead of walls of glass and massive open spaces, lounges are more intimate and enclosed, and the atrium connects only four decks instead of soaring to the top of the ship.

Deck chess
Aboard Island, decorative art adorns the rooms and passageways, with wall murals adding color and defining the theme of each lounge. Outside the nautical-theme Wheelhouse Bar, P&O liners of the past are depicted with a painting of the famous Canberra situated at the main entrance.

Explorer's Lounge
Wide promenades connect the public rooms on Decks 6 and 7, adding to the spaciousness and good traffic flow. The Princess Plaza is a four-deck atrium with glass elevators and white marble staircases linking public areas and dining room decks. The atrium has a special glow thanks to twinkling lights in changing colors that adorn the ceiling and modern sculpture. Musicians playing classical music and light jazz add to the Plaza's atmosphere.

Sabatini's

Island Princess has three show lounges, including the aft Universe Lounge, which boasts high-definition TV, three revolving stages, and its own kitchen for culinary classes. The Explorer's Lounge, with a Far East and African theme, has a small stage for cabaret and disco; and the Princess Theater seats 688. The two main dining rooms, Bordeaux and Provence, feature intimate seating areas, rather than the openness of massive dining halls.

Bayou Cafe
Dining alternatives include the charming Bayou Cafe, the first New Orleans-style restaurant at sea; and the tastefully decorated Sabatini's Italian Trattoria. New lounges on Island Princess include Crooners, the line's first martini bar (appropriately decorated with memorabilia from the 'Rat Pack'); and the equally appropriate Churchill cigar and spirits lounge, complete with custom humidor.

First Pottery Studio at Sea
The first pottery and ceramics studio at sea, complete with pottery kiln and wheel, is also found on board. Passengers can create pottery and paint ceramics as part of the new Scholarship@Sea Program, which offers up to 20 courses per cruise. Subjects covered include visual, creative and culinary arts, computer skills, health and finance.

Library
The expansive library has many oversized leather chairs complete with built-in sound system. At the wedding chapel, couples can take advantage of the Wedding at Sea program for renewal of vows or actual marriages, which can legally be conducted by the Captain. A wedding-cam allows friends at home to watch the ceremony live on the Internet.

Families will appreciate the extensive kids' and teens' facilities for the supervised youth program complete with dedicated children's pool. A card room, Parisian-theme casino, art gallery, boutiques and digital photo gallery are also found on board.

Outside cabin with verandah

Of the 987 cabins, 753 have private balconies (217 to 470 sq. ft.), 144 are standard outside (162 sq. ft.) and only 108 are inside (156 sq. ft.), while 20 are wheelchair-accessible (217 to 374 sq. ft.). All cabins have a mini-refrigerator, hair dryer, private safe, multi-function telephone, music system and color TV with remote control.

Lotus Pool
Spa and fitness options are considerable. A full-service beauty salon along with European and Asian spa treatments are offered at the Lotus Spa, which has its own against-the-current pool, two whirlpools with a balcony area and retractable glass magra-dome. An extensive lineup of classes is available through the spa and the ocean-view gym, which carries the latest in exercise equipment.

The outdoor pool area includes three whirlpools and is close to the pizzeria, grill, poolside bar, ice cream bar and the 24-hour Horizon Court buffet/bistro. The Princess Links golf center has a nine-hole putting course, well protected from the wind, and two computer simulators. On top at Deck 16 you'll find a splash pool, tennis/basketball court, shuffleboard and an oversized chess set.

Wedding Chapel

Island Princess features a unique gas turbine and diesel power system designed to give a smooth, vibration-free ride with reduced exhaust emissions and minimal oil waste. The gas turbines are situated in the funnel to allow more passenger space below. But don't be fooled by those jet-engine-like protrusions on the funnel that distinguish this ship. They are simply for show, symbolizing Island's unique power system.

The Island Princess will be sailing seven-night Alaska cruises between Vancouver and Seward through mid-September.

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