The new atrium is the centerpiece of Royal Princess
I tend to see the 2000-decade in cruising as analogous to the 1960s in rock albums where we started with the mop tops on Ed Sullivan but ended with the most iconic rock albums in history.
Cruising in the 2000-decade went through a similar transformation. We started with Voyager of the Seas which defined the early 2000s as the first true mega-ship with an inside open promenade and we ended with the most innovative and luxurious cruise ships ever built; Celebrity Solstice, Holland America Eurodam, MSC Fantasia, Oasis of the Seas, Norwegian Epic, Silver Whisper and more.
Now, Princess took a slightly different approach to that decade. Princess started with Grand Princess at 110,000-tons and ended the decade with Ruby Princess at 113,000-tons. While these Princess ships were already state-of-the-art and gave thousands of excellent cruises, the line just didn't evolve from a design standpoint as much as other lines. But that is about to change.
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Royal Takes Princess to New Heights
While the Princess ships of the 2000s were lovely and never failed to deliver, the new Royal Princess to debut this June, 2013, will finally bring Princess Cruise Line to the next level.
Significantly, Royal Princess will be the largest Princess ship ever built. When space is best used as a design element it adds more than just additional rooms, it imbues an impressive sense of grandeur. For example, Cunard's Queen Mary 2 has the most impressive grand ballroom at sea, and it isn't just because of the size of the dance floor, which is vast. It is the scale of the room which impresses the most. The dance floor is sunken from the immediate viewing area, and has a 30-foot ceiling with additional wings looking down from the deck above. Full height columns, drapes and a two-story proscenium for the massive bandstand give the room an impressive scale which ultimately becomes its most important design element.
Such grandeur of scale will also be the defining difference between Royal and previous Princess ships. For example, while the ship is only 20% larger than its Princess predecessors, the Piazza Atrium will be 50% larger. There will be similar specialty coffee and gelato available close to a staging area for impromptu entertainment, but there will also be, as president Alan Buckelew puts it, "far more space than ever before allowing for exciting new venues and an even greater variety of ways for our passengers to "escape completely."
Open views of the entertainment on deck five will come from balcony-like open areas on decks six and seven encircling and overlooking the atrium. On these decks will be a variety of restaurants, entertainment venues, shops and other attraction, always within close proximity to the heartbeat of the ship. The Piazza will serve as the "place to be" for guests during the cruise - an element that always makes a ship more fun and friendly.We have an in-depth article on the Entertainment Venues here: New Royal Princess Entertainment Venues
The new atrium venues include the International Café patisserie, the "Celebrations Gift Shop," the Gelateria and Vines Wine Bar with tapas and sushi. In the center are what appear to be "floating" platforms holding Bellini's Bar (deck six) and the seafood bar (deck seven) with sushi and caviar. Deck six surrounding the atrium also has Alfredo's Pizzeria and the photo gallery, deck seven has the Crooner's Bar with dueling pianos made of glass.We have an in-depth article on the Royal Atrium here: More Royal Princess Revealed
The shore excursions and guests services desks are off the atrium in a partially separated alcove. Here you also find the entrance to Sabatini's Italian Restaurant, a Princess signature restaurant.
The public area on deck 17 has the "sea walk" - a 60 feet long glass enclosed walkway that extends 28-feet out from the edge of the ship. Through the glass floor you can look down to the sea 128-feet directly below. Directly adjacent is the deck area with two large pools, a swim-up bar, a massive outdoor movie screen for the Princess-innovated "Movies Under the Stars" and an island area between the pools that becomes a stage for a technology-driven dancing colored lights and fountains show at night. There will also be nighttime deck parties with a DJ on another stage close by.We have an in-depth article on the top deck here: Royal Princess Reveals Top Secrets
Sanctuary and Retreat
The latest update just received from Princess describes the Sanctuary and Retreat Pool areas - both designated as adults-only and situated together at the forward end of deck 17. The attraction is the peace and quiet, with a tranquility rock garden setting with live topiary plants. There are deck chairs in a quiet setting so adults can relax in the sun or opt for even more secluded cabanas where one can order optional picnic baskets with "artisan snacks" and a premium wine.
One can use these areas for $15 per person for half a day or $25 per person for a whole day. The cabanas are extra.
Royal Princess is not the first Princess ship to have a Sanctuary area for adults, but it is the first Princess ship to have one with four special cabanas. These cabanas come with a personal television with noise-reducing wireless headphones, luxury robes and slippers, a welcome cocktail and healthy snacks including nuts and fruit. There is a fully stocked mini-bar with water, sodas and alcoholic options, including beer or wine. The cost starts at $80 for a half day, with separate charges for whatever you consume. The Retreat Pool has its own cabanas which start at only $50 per half day - however they do not include the food or cocktail - those must be ordered separately.
Passengers in either of the cabanas can order the "Cabana Picnic" featuring a premium bottle of wine paired with a gourmet selection of antipasti, artisan sandwiches, pizza and fresh-baked desserts. Sample items included may be ahi tuna poke with Hass avocado and Alfredo's Surf & Turf Pizza with lobster medallions & beef tenderloin. Baskets serving two people will begin at $40.
Booking is already open for Royal Princess which begins sailing next June (2013). She spends her first summer in Europe but crosses over to Fort Lauderdale in October. We have a very special CruiseMates Royal Princess group cruise scheduled on this crossing where you get a cruise from Venice to Barcelona followed by a leisurely eight-day Atlantic crossing. We have great prices on this cruise starting at just $1699 per person.
Are you a fan of Princess cruises?? Tell us here: Cruise Forum