Princess Cruises has taken a former R-class ship from the
now-defunct Renaissance Cruises and made it its own.
The 30,277-ton, 680-passenger vessel doesn’t look like the
line’s super-large newbuilds, and the décor is still a bit darker
than the usual light-filled, airy interiors.
But there’s no mistaking that the Tahitian Princess is a
Princess ship. Despite the surroundings of lush green volcanic
islands, guest dance groups undulating on the deck and warm blue
waters perfect for snorkeling or scuba, Captain’s Circle members
need not fear. This is still a Princess cruise in every way.
There is the morning wake-up call of the cruise director
rattling off the activities of the day including bingo, art
auctions, familiar game shows such as Newlyweds and the hilarious
Liars Club and gaming in the casino.
All of which can be found in the familiar and sometimes
confusing Princess Patter, the daily activities sheet (try to find
the dining room hours).
The razzle-dazzle of the production shows may be trimmed a bit
to fit the smaller showroom, but the entertainment quality and
Additional solo performers and visiting island dance groups
round out the program.
Princess has begun a series of educational and entertaining
classes. For example, in the pottery class you can design and
create your own plate, cup or picture frame. Computer@Sea offers
instruction on the basics of computing as well as photo editing,
Microsoft Word and Excel. Culinary demonstrations by Chef Claude
Palloure get the passengers involved with the cooking.
You still have the captain’s cocktail parties and two formal
nights for those ready to dress up. The remaining nights are smart
casual, meaning jacket and tie are not required for the gentlemen.
And the shops with all manner of gift items are open when at sea
and in the evenings, even in port.
Though this is a smaller ship, Princess still provides a variety
of dining venues. The main dining room has two dinner seatings with
a large traditional menu that changes daily, and also serves
open-seating breakfast and lunch.
Buffet breakfast and lunch are served in the Panorama Grill with
outdoor and inside seating. At night the Grill serves a light
Additional dining is available on alternate nights at the
Sterling Steak House ($10 surcharge) with thick cuts of prime rib
of beef, porterhouse, filet mignon and New York sirloin steaks
grilled to order.
And on other nights, Sabatini’s Trattoria ($20 surcharge) will
fill you up with an 18-course dinner including hot and cold
appetizers (batter-fried oysters, crab cakes and shrimp), soup,
three kinds of pasta and your choice of sea bass on risotto,
grilled langoustines, sea scallops, lobster tail with champagne
butter, tiger prawns, rosemary spring chicken or a shallot-crusted
veal chop. Plan to spend two or three hours at the table and eat
very little that day.
Late evening dining from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. can be found in The
Bistro with a full menu of appetizers, soup and entrees of pasta,
salmon, chicken and steak. All in all, there is 24-hour dining
available on the ship, including room service.
The Tahitian Princess has a newly decorated, attractive
Observation Lounge/Night Club and a casino bar with a lounge filled
with couches and large upholstered armchairs.
Overall, the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed, as befits a
cruise in the laid-back South Sea Islands.
To keep yourself trim after all of that eating and drinking,
head for the fitness center with treadmills, bench presses and
weights along with an extensive program of classes in body
aerobics, body conditioning, Yoga ($10), kickboxing ($10) and
The Lotus Spa has a full beauty salon plus spa treatments where
you can be rubbed, pounded or wrapped at prices that range from $99
for a one-hour Oxygen Lifting Facial to $250 for an Ocean Seaweed
Wrap with scalp and foot massage plus a one-hour, full-body
Cabins feature a TV, safe and hair dryer. Amenities include
shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and, on request, bathrobes,
shower cap and bowl of fruit. (Agents, remember to request these at
time of booking.)
Top of the line are the 10 Owner’s Suites ranging in size from
786 to 962 square feet including balcony. The larger suites are on
the aft end. These offer a separate bedroom, dining table, TV, CD
player and one-and-a-half bathrooms with a whirlpool tub. The large
veranda has a table with four chairs and two loungers.
A large number of Penthouse Suites take up most of Deck 8,
measuring 322 square feet each, including the balcony.
Other cabins are balcony stateroom (216 square feet), oceanview
cabins (165 square feet and no balcony) and inside cabins (160
Throughout the ship, Princess has maintained its quality
standard of housekeeping and personal service.
Harry Basch is the cruise columnist for the Los Angeles