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She’s technically not yet a Princess (she becomes one when Prince Charles ascends the throne), but she certainly seems to be one to most Americans. And there’s no doubt about the royalty of Princess Cruises’ new Royal Princess, named by Kate Middleton on June 13 in Southampton. Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge named the 3,600-passenger vessel in an event streamed live on Princess Cruises’ website.
Grammy-nominated British pop star Natasha Bedingfield was among the performers for the inaugural ceremonies, which had been preceded the night before by a champagne celebration attended by top Carnival Corporation executives, agents, press and Fincantieri officers.
The attending crowd of partners, supporters, 1,346 crew members and cruise executives was piped in by the Irish Guards, followed by the men and women of the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Portsmouth. The Duchess cut the ribbon that smashed the suspended bottle of champagne on the hull of what Princess’ president and CEO, Alan Buckelew, called a labor of love, noting that the ship is the culmination of years of designing and building.
Buckelew described Royal Princess as an exciting evolution for the line, combining signature features of the current fleet and new ones, including a 50 percent larger atrium that is the social hub of the ship; SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water; a top deck fountain; the new Princess Live! television studio; the largest pastry shop at sea; and balconies on all outside staterooms.
New takes on dining are reflected in the layout of the ship’s Horizon Court buffet, broken into stations including a Japanese hibachi grill, a sandwich shop and a rotisserie, which are all complimentary. A new addition to the buffet is options for fondue and crab for a fee. The buffet itself is twice the size of Princess’ previous newbuilds, with 900 seats indoors and 350 outside.
The Chef’s Table has become Chef's Table Lumiere, with a curtain of light delineating dining space for the diners enjoying the creations and explanations of an executive chef, for $95 including wine.
Royal Princess will sail the 12-day Grand Mediterranean itinerary between Barcelona and Venice throughout the summer, followed by seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises out of Fort Lauderdale beginning in the fall. The third ship to bear the Royal Princess name, she will have a sister, Regal Princess, debuting next spring.