New on the ocean waves

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

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.

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