No other Cruise Line has ever been able to capture peoples imagination quite like Princess. Much of this is owed of course to Geraldine Saunders, Aaron Spelling and the cast of the Love Boat. For many of us who remember those Saturday nights in front of the TV seeing images of people living large like royalty and enjoying new and exciting destinations which seemed far away and reserved only for the elite, sparked our imagination and kept us watching for 9 seasons which presently continue to run in global syndication in literally scores of different languages worldwide!…… Charo doing her “cuchicuchi” easily transcends culture and language!
The die was cast for what would continue to be year after year of continued growth and success for Princess Cruises. In the last ten years or so (or at least after the sting of 9/11 had waned) the mass market cruise lines have seemed to enter….rather explode into this competition for bigger and better ships. Each line offering impressive improvements on dining, accommodations, entertainment, ports of call and excursion options.
Cruising today is hands down the best value all around and there has never been a better time to cruise than today! Now there exists a cruise line to cater to anyones budget and preference. Wether it be a never ending party atmosphere to quiet, classy, and dare I say… somewhat understated. for every traveler exists the perfect match!
I’ve just recently returned from Fort Lauderdale where my wife and I were on board the 18th addition to Princess Cruises fleet… the Regal Princess. She has just wrapped up her summer inaugural season in the Grand Mediterranean and will begin her Caribbean itinerary starting next week. We were lucky enough to be on board for 2 days to take part in the naming ceremony complete with the original cast of the Love Boat acting as godparents to the Regal, and 25 former guest stars present for the celebration including none other than Florence Henderson (Mrs Brady to you and me). A rather fitting tribute and spectacular way to kick off a year of 50th anniversary celebrations that will be held on all of the ships in it’s fleet.
The Regal is exactly as her name implies….. simply regal! Inside and out, the ship (just like her sister the Royal Princess which was launched earlier this year) has undergone a complete rethink in design and amenities. Princess Cruises aim is to offer guests meaningful variety in their vacation experience, to Princess it’s not just about “booking a cruise”, it’s about investing in memories that will last a lifetime.
Quality of food and service has always been what distinguished Princess from the rest, and they have spared no effort in offering new dining options that would raise the eyebrows of the most discerning Epicureans! They have retained however, guest favourites such as Sabatinis Italian specialty restaurant which -in the opinion of this writer- is one of the best Italian dining venues on the open seas. The ship boasts the biggest pastry shop at sea, and although I don’t personally have much of a sweet tooth, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand on edge as I perused the many showcases filled with lovingly prepared pastries and other calorie conscious treats. For those of you who have no issue with throwing the diet playbook overboard, their new “Chocolate Journeys” will help immensely. World renowned chocolatier Norman Love was on board and gave us a first hand sneak peak and taste of whats in store. Look forward to wine and chocolate pairings at Vines Bar in the ships Atrium, and the most decadent chocolate desserts served in the main dining rooms. Norman Love has an encyclopedic knowledge of wines and chocolate and spent some time with my wife and I explaining where the ingredients where procured, how it was put together, and how and why the selected wines paired so well, my palette wholeheartedly agreed although I had to refuse the third serving of wine, since it was only 2 in the afternoon and couldn’t afford to take a nap!
The tastefully redesigned Horizon Court has been expanded to include the “Horizon Bistro” with its own decor and culinary offerings. The food in the Horizon Court has always been of top quality and has often times ruined my appetite for dinner since there is so much choice and all of it irresistibly delectable. It would appear that they managed to step up their game there as well, and if I were to judge the ships galley solely based on their Indian food , (which Ive noticed other ships manage to mangle leaving you to wonder if the Chef could even find India on a map), then Princess gets a solid 10 for what they have achieved!
For passengers who wish to completely disconnect and “zen out” The Sanctuary is absolutely breathtaking with Al Fresco cabanas complete with sofas and LCD television screens, they have also included (at a ridiculously exorbitant price tag) 2 private cabanas complete with fully upholstered sitting area and massage beds (with masseuse) for your own private use. For those who can afford the 3000$ a day fee for this, well to that I say enjoy, however I’ll content myself with one of the plush deck chairs that they also offer at more reasonable prices thank you very much.
While were on the subject of all things “Zen”, the Lotus Spa caters to all your needs for personal wellness and is ALWAYS the first thing I book when I get on board. They have moved the Lotus Spa forward and on Deck 5 Just below the Princess Theatre. For those who are accustomed to Princess, the Lotus is typically topside and aft, alongside the Fitness Centre. Having those two venues connected always made perfect sense to me, so when I noticed they were now as far away from each other as they could possibly be, it struck me as a bit odd…. oh well, the extra walk to the Lotus Spa after your workout can be included into you cardio regime. Despite that, the Lotus Spa was completely redesigned and couldn’t have looked better! I could easily spend my entire day there! Its my favourite hangout on Princess!
The big cruise lines in an effort to attract to guests have been partnering with companies such as DreamWorks, Nickelodeon and so on. For families who cruise with children this makes perfect sense. Princess has done the same but in a different -and in my opinion- more meaningful manner. Princess Cruises has partnered with The Discovery Channel and have created their “Discovery at Sea” Program. They have intelligently implemented the Discovery Program into many areas of the cruising experience offering things such as “Discovery Under The Stars” where on board experts on astronomy give informative talks on the stars and planets. In the kids areas such as the Pelican Club they have videos showing educational Discovery content for all age groups (much better than having them watch SpongeBob Squarepants in my opinion). This synergy between these two global companies will undoubetdly be a huge hit with guests of all ages!
There are some that may say that Princess had hit a plateau and in recent years have not been able to come out ahead of the pack in terms of attracting past guest and new ones alike. Well fellow travellers, for those of you who thought that, think again because Princess just upped the game big time and this Blog doesn’t have enough room to fully convey what Princess is unleashing to the world of cruising. For more information go www.princess.com and see for yourself. Invest in your memories and get ready to “Come Back New”. You’ll be glad you did!