My last cruise was on the Grand Princess......when I saw that the Ocean Princess was offering a 10 day cruise next spring...I had to book it!!!!
I know that the Ocean is smaller than the Grand....but what I would like to know is how different are they.... does the Ocean have "personal choice" ( I just loved that on the Grand). Do they have any alternative restaurants....do the "sell" ice cream out on deck? Do they have the 24 hr Horizon Court (loved that for a cup of tea and a late snack) Any info would be much appreciated.....
The good news is that Princess's new "Sterling Steakhouse" does not replace anything! Rather, the Terrace Grill (MV Sun Princess), Balcony Grill (MV Dawn Princess), or Riviera Grill (MV Sea Princess and MV [i] Ocean Princess) -- which are located just above and forward of the main pool area on the Lido Deck of the respective vessels -- become the "Sterling Steakhouse," featuring al fresco dining, between 18:30 and 21:30 each evening. If I remember correctly, they do spread tablecloths on the plastic patio tables located in this area....
The "Sterling Steakhouse" offers several cuts of steak and a couple other choices (grilled chicken and, if I remember correctly, grilled pork chops) for those who don't eat red meat, along with the usual accompaniments that you might expect in a typical steak house ashore. There's a surcharge of $8.00 per person -- which ought to be a credit in view of the fact that a comparable dinner ashore would cost between $15 and $20 whereas a dining experience comparable to the main dining rooms would start around $40 per person....
Anyway, see <a href=http://www.loveboat.com/news/article.jsp?newsArticleId=na368> Princess's press release </a> for more information.
Princess's press relase suggests reservations, but reservations did not appear to be necessary when I was aboard MV Dawn Princess in the Caribbean last March. In spite of near-daily promotions in the Princess Patter, it never appeared to be very full when I walked by during the dinner hour. My suspicion is that it was probably even less popular in Alaska, where cool temperatures would tend to discourage al fresco dining.
I actually prefer MV Ocean Princess (or any of her sisters, MV Sun Princess, MV Dawn Princess, and MV Sea Princess) over MV Grand Princess -- and that decision is not even close. MV Ocean Princess has a much more functional configuration of public spaces, so activities generally seem to work a whole lot better and flow much more smoothly. For example, the disco/night club (called Spinner's aboard MV Ocean Princess) is located on the Promenade Deck, where everybody already is at night, but it's stacked between the casino and the dining room so there's no problem with noise from the disco propagating into nearby staterooms. Additionally, the Promenade Deck has a full circle walkway so you don't have to ascend the equivalent of three flights of stairs to go around the bow and descend just as many stairs on the other side of the ship if you are trying to walk or run laps.
By and large, you will find all of the amenities aboard MV [i] Ocean Princess that you find aboard MV Grand Princess though perhaps with fewer simultaneous choices. For example, MV Ocean Princess has only two show rooms (the Princess Theater and the Vista Show Lounge) wheras MV Grand Princess has three (the Princess Theater, the Vista Show Lounge, and Explorer's, which functions as a cabaret) -- but that really does not matter because you can watch only one show at a time anyway. It really just means that the major shows run for two nights instead of three so you still get to see a different show each evening.
OTOH, many of the spaces aboard MV Ocean Princess seem to be considerably more versatile than the corresponding spaces aboard MV Grand Princess. Aboard MV Ocean Princess, for example, a section of the Horizon Court has a live band for dancing (usually from 9:00 PM until midnight) in addition to the bistro and buffet options for dining. Additionally, there are two live bands in the Wheelhouse Bar that play music for dancing from 5:00 PM until 1:00 AM, as on MV Grand Princess, and there are two piano lounges -- one in the main atrium that usually features a sing-along and the other (a champagne and caviar bar, called "Apres Vous" aboard MV Ocean Princess ) in the adjacent space that usually features instrumental music (piano or classical guitar).
The pizzeria, called Fabio's aboard MV Ocean Princess, has a different set-up than aboard MV Grand Princess. It's located at the top of the atrium rather than on deck, so it's open in the late evening in addition to being open all afternoon (it's a great lunch spot). (If I remember correctly, its hours are from noon until 5:00 PM and from 9:00 PM until midnight). The pizza and calzones are free (tips "at your discretion") -- and they really are outstanding -- but the pizzeria serves only bar beverages.
MV Ocean Princess began offering Personal Choice Dining at the start of the Alaska season last May. Since she has only two main dining rooms, one offers the traditional dining option with two assigned seatings and the other offers the new option of open seating between 5:30 PM and 10:30 PM. I'm not sure which is which, but it really does not matter since the both dining rooms are completely identical except for the painted murals on the bulkheads and each dining room also has its own galley (yes, both galleys also are identical).
There really are three alternative restaurants aboard MV Ocean Princess now.
>> There's Fabio's, the pizzeria at the top of the atrium, that I already described, which has no surcharge (but only bar beverages are available).
>> There's the Horizon Court, which offers both bistro and buffet options, which has no surcharge.
>> There's the "Sterling Steakhouse" described in more detail in other replies, which has a surcharge of $8.00 per person.
Trust me -- if you go hungry on this ship, it's your own fault!
And yes, the Horizon Court does serve food continuously on a "24x7" basis.
I should also mention that MV Ocean Princess and her sisters have one significant feature that's seriously lacking aboard MV Grand Princess and her sisters. There are magical teak deck lounges on both sides of the Promenade Deck -- a favorite place to sit and enjoy the passing scenery, especially when the ship is underway. I should forewarn you, though, to always use the lounges on the shady side of the Promenade Deck. When those chairs start working their magic, all of this world's cares fade into irrelevance and many passengers seem to enter altered states of consciousness in which they also become completely oblivous to the passage of time -- a situation which can easily lead to the "lobster look" if one is on the sunny side of the Promenade Deck! Aside from the fact that the "lobster look" is not "cool," it can cause much discomfort over the rest of your vacation!
BTW, if you do get a sunburn, adjust the shower just as cool as you can stand and keep turning it colder as your body adjusts to it until you get it as cold as it will go, and stay under it until your body is adjusted to it. When you turn the shower off, pat -- don't rub -- the sunburned areas dry with a bath towel. This will take the sting and the itch out of a sunburn. Continue doing this whenever you shower until the red tone disappears.
Norm, I enjoyed all your comments and suggestions about the Ocean Princess. I want to try her soon. Have been on the Star (which I think Princess sold or something), the Regal, the Dawn and the Golden. Dawn is my favorite so far but have loved them all. Helen.
I agree with all the good points Norm made about the Ocean Princess, esp. the teak lounges on the Promenade!
One SMALL negative....though the pizza is good at Fabio's, they won't let you take it with you! You can't take it out and you can't order it over the phone. The night we didn't feel up to the dining room, we were going to have pizza in our cabin. Can't. Ended up with sandwiches from room service.
We had the best waiter I've ever had. We will be on the Ocean Princess again in 3 weeks and hope that he happens to still be there and that we can request him.
If you loved MV Dawn Princess, you will be right at home aboard MV Ocean Princess since they are nearly identical. The most significant differences between the two ships are the names of some of the public spaces.
A couple years ago, Princess Cruises's parent company, Peninsular & Oriental Navigation Company (prior to the "demerger" of the cruise unit as P&O Princess Cruises Plc. last year), transferred MV Star Princess to its British sister line P&O Cruises division as <a href=http://www.pocruises.com/ships/arcadia/home.htm> MV Arcadia</a>. You still can book her cruises through Princess Cruises, but her entertainment and activities will have a more distinctly British flavor.
Will be on Ocean Princess in about 10 weeks. Don't keep it a
secret. Who is the "best waiter ever" (so we too can ask for
his table)? We have cruised on 4 different lines and never
had a "bad" waiter but they have varied from "good" to
"outstanding". A good waiter can make your cruise. .