New on the ocean waves
WHILE the 19-deck, 329m-long Royal Princess, operated by Princess Cruises under the US-based Carnival Corporation banner, features inclusions that are standard across the fleet and familiar to its regular clientele, terrific new elements, from entertainment to dining, have been incorporated.
The SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway located starboard on deck 16, swerves 8.5m beyond the edge of the ship and gives a seagull’s perspec- tive of the ocean for those brave enough to look down. For the fainthearted, courage could be summoned by partaking of a bracing libation from the portside SeaView Bar.
The Princess Live television studio is the setting for audienceparticipation whodunnits (enormous fun) and the broadcasting of the morning Wake Show and live presentations through in-cabin channels.
The largest pastry shop at sea, part of the all-day Horizon Bistro, features just about every sinfully sweet confection imaginable, from cheesecake to creme brulee.
In cruise ship parlance, an ‘‘outside’’ cabin is not an all-weather perch but one with a window (choose the cheaper ‘‘inside’’ category for a vault-like sleep). On Royal Princess, all outside staterooms have balconies, which is an unusual, and welcome, initiative. Fit-outs are in neutral colours with quality bedding and wall-mounted, flat-screen televisions loaded with free movies and series.
While food in the Symphony, Concerto and Allegro dining rooms is very good, things are taken up several notches at Sabatini’s, an Italian restaurant with a $US25 ($26.30) surcharge, charmingly attentive waiters and a specialty selection that includes tris d’aragosta, or lobster three ways (tail, risotto and bisque), and striped bass baked with a herbed salt crust.
There are delicious Neapolitan- style, thin-crust pizzas and must-have tiramisu at Alfredo’s, pub lunches at the Wheelhouse Bar, plus Crown Grill is a surcharge restaurant with darkwood decor and substantial steaks.
The adults-only Sanctuary (pictured) on deck 17 has curtained cabanas complete with fridges and TVs, the large Retreat Pool, steward service, optional spa treatments and potted plants that, after a tropical cocktail or two, almost look real.
Although not available on my short inaugural cruise, Royal Princess will feature Crab Shack and Fondues for alternative casual dining.