A Crown Jewel

The Crown Princess makes her debut

By: M.T. Schwartzman

Princess Cruises was the first line to order a post-Panamax ship, the Grand Princess of 1998. Eight years later, the Princess fleet boasts seven of these leviathans, the latest being the 112,894-gross-ton Crown Princess, which made its debut on a sunny day this June from its inaugural homeport in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Having seen and sailed on many Princess ships, I expected more of the same from the new Crown Princess but was surprised at just how distinctive she is, especially in all of the “continental” touches.

A rich, classical decor extends throughout, creating a unified theme shipwide and infiltrating even the tiniest details, from the artwork in the stairwells to the stained-glass windows in the cigar bar and the amber-glass lighting fixtures in the library. Even the Internet Center gets the Old-World treatment, adorned with sepia-tone images of Venetian gondolas and masked carnival revelers.

The Piazza, a new public square-like space on deck 5, is the centerpiece of Crown Princess. It’s an elegant area, decorated with fluted, white-washed columns; marble tiles and mosaics; and scrollwork on the handrails of the dramatic curved stairways leading to the reception level and shops on decks 6 and 7.

The Piazza’s main draw is the International Cafe, a 24-hour eatery resembling a cozy neighborhood patisserie. In the mornings, freshly baked pastries and specialty coffees lure passengers. Later, the Cafe features tapas, panini, tea sandwiches and gelato. Cookies are available around the clock, much to the dismay of would-be dieters. (Some items cost $3-$5.)

Another new venue in the Piazza is Vines, a wine-cellar inspired lounge for vino (24 vintages) and sushi. Throughout the day, entertainers such as magicians, opera singers and jazz quartets perform in the Piazza, adding to the “town square” feel.

The Piazza isn’t the only new design change from previous Princess ships. There’s the Crown Grill, a new steak-and-seafood venue in the space usually occupied by Sabatini’s, boasting a show kitchen that turns dinner into theater. Sabatini’s, meanwhile, has been re-created in a new location high above the stern and offers an upscale Italian dining experience. In a nice twist, diners have the option of adjourning next door to an elegant piano bar, Adagio, for dessert, coffee and after-dinner drinks.

Also new is The Sanctuary, an adults-only retreat created in an elegant, garden-like setting complete with comfortable chairs and chaise lounges. The Sanctuary proved to be, quite literally, an overnight success. After the vessel’s inaugural cruise on June 14, Princess instituted a half-day fee of $15 per person in order to reduce overcrowding.

Crown Princess continues some successful traditions, including the giant Movies Under the Stars 300-square-foot LED screen at the Calypso Pool and the ScholarShip@Sea program for eclectic enrichment. (The computer classes are excellent.)

The vessel also offers nearly 900 private balconies a number second only to the Queen Mary 2 (by comparison, Freedom of the Seas has 844). All balconies are equipped with sprinklers and heat detectors.

Although some lines design their ships with one main dining room, Princess has opted for three smaller ones on all its Grand-class ships, allowing Princess to emphasize its Anytime Dining Program, while still offering traditional dining in two seatings.

In my mind, the new and traditional perks onboard the Crown Princess take full advantage of the space these 100,000-ton cruise ships offer.

Princess Cruises was the first line to order a post-Panamax ship, the Grand Princess of 1998. Eight years later, the Princess fleet boasts seven of these leviathans, the latest being the 112,894-gross-ton Crown Princess, which made its debut on a sunny day this June from its inaugural homeport in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Having seen and sailed on many Princess ships, I expected more of the same from the new Crown Princess but was surprised at just how distinctive she is, especially in all of the “continental” touches.

A rich, classical decor extends throughout, creating a unified theme shipwide and infiltrating even the tiniest details, from the artwork in the stairwells to the stained-glass windows in the cigar bar and the amber-glass lighting fixtures in the library. Even the Internet Center gets the Old-World treatment, adorned with sepia-tone images of Venetian gondolas and masked carnival revelers.

The Piazza, a new public square-like space on deck 5, is the centerpiece of Crown Princess. It’s an elegant area, decorated with fluted, white-washed columns; marble tiles and mosaics; and scrollwork on the handrails of the dramatic curved stairways leading to the reception level and shops on decks 6 and 7.

The Piazza’s main draw is the International Cafe, a 24-hour eatery resembling a cozy neighborhood patisserie. In the mornings, freshly baked pastries and specialty coffees lure passengers. Later, the Cafe features tapas, panini, tea sandwiches and gelato. Cookies are available around the clock, much to the dismay of would-be dieters. (Some items cost $3-$5.)

Another new venue in the Piazza is Vines, a wine-cellar inspired lounge for vino (24 vintages) and sushi. Throughout the day, entertainers such as magicians, opera singers and jazz quartets perform in the Piazza, adding to the “town square” feel.

The Piazza isn’t the only new design change from previous Princess ships. There’s the Crown Grill, a new steak-and-seafood venue in the space usually occupied by Sabatini’s, boasting a show kitchen that turns dinner into theater. Sabatini’s, meanwhile, has been re-created in a new location high above the stern and offers an upscale Italian dining experience. In a nice twist, diners have the option of adjourning next door to an elegant piano bar, Adagio, for dessert, coffee and after-dinner drinks.

Also new is The Sanctuary, an adults-only retreat created in an elegant, garden-like setting complete with comfortable chairs and chaise lounges. The Sanctuary proved to be, quite literally, an overnight success. After the vessel’s inaugural cruise on June 14, Princess instituted a half-day fee of $15 per person in order to reduce overcrowding.

Crown Princess continues some successful traditions, including the giant Movies Under the Stars 300-square-foot LED screen at the Calypso Pool and the ScholarShip@Sea program for eclectic enrichment. (The computer classes are excellent.)

The vessel also offers nearly 900 private balconies a number second only to the Queen Mary 2 (by comparison, Freedom of the Seas has 844). All balconies are equipped with sprinklers and heat detectors.

Although some lines design their ships with one main dining room, Princess has opted for three smaller ones on all its Grand-class ships, allowing Princess to emphasize its Anytime Dining Program, while still offering traditional dining in two seatings.

In my mind, the new and traditional perks onboard the Crown Princess take full advantage of the space these 100,000-ton cruise ships offer.

AT A GLANCE

Cruise Line: Princess Cruises

Ship: Crown Princess

Gross Tonnage: 112,894 grt

Capacity: 3,080, double

Itineraries: Nine-day cruises from New York call at Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Port Canaveral; or Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Bermuda through Oct. 18.

A one-time, eight-day repositioning cruise departs from New York to San Juan on Oct. 27, calling at St. Thomas, Antigua, Dominica and St. Kitts. The ship commences seven-day cruises from San Juan on Nov. 4, calling at Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas; or St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Grenada, Bonaire and Aruba.

Rates: Prices for the Crown Princess’ Brooklyn-based, nine-day Eastern/Western Caribbean cruises start at $999 per person, double. Rates for San Juan-based, seven-day southern Caribbean cruises begin at $599.

800-774-6237
www.princess.com

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