In Royal And Regal Princess: Two Good Looking Twins we introduced you to the two new cruise ships from Princess Cruises, both of which we visited, under construction in Italy. Noted in that report was some of the thought that went into placement of different venues around the ship in way that respects the line’s rich history, a notion that is sure to be appreciated by long-time Princess fans. That same thinking happens to position Princess to draw a new breed of passengers who might never have sailed the line before. One way we believe they will do that is by adding some unique top deck features.
Extreme sports fans won’t find a bungee cord drop to the ocean floor, hang gliding off the side of the ship or some other “lets blow them away” sort of attraction. What they will find is a largely expanded focus on fitness and health.
The ship’s jogging track, believed to be the longest at sea, is a good example of the thought that has gone into every aspect of the new ships. In the first of many “why didn’t anyone think of that before?” ideas, that 1/6 mile track will have both a fast and a slow lane for walkers and joggers. Smart.
“Many of our passengers are very active on vacation,” said Jan Swartz, executive vice president for Princess Cruises in a press release. “These new facilities will offer them state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge classes to keep up – or even step up – their fitness routines at sea.”
Indeed, that seems to be the case. What is often thought of as “cruise = weight gain” does not have to be so. Our friend, travel writer Beth Blair proved that not long ago while on a sailing of Crown Princess. Taking advantage of the fitness options available on most cruise ships, Blair challenged herself and found all the necessary programs and equipment to make an impact.
The designers of Royal Princess and Regal Princess clearly had that sort of thinking in mind. When I told Lisa that they had moved the exercise machines from their traditional front-facing location to the side of the ship, her response was “Brilliant! Now I won’t get blinded by the sun in the morning,” something I had not thought about. But that’s the detail to which this ship is put together.
On that jogging track? A new circuit program with outdoor exercise stations will be set at intervals along the track which is decorated with art picturing iconic travel destinations, giving passengers the opportunity to “run around the world.”
Passengers won’t need to run far though for more active options. Court games, lawn activities and a lounge for virtual gaming are part of Princess Sports Central which boasts a Center Court that can be used for basketball, tennis, volleyball and badminton. On many new ships, that would be the end of the list. On these ships, it is just the beginning as Princess adds a portable batting cage, a driving range facility and simulated laser shooting range on the lower of the two level facility. On the upper level, the Lawn Court offers a grassy area for putting, bocce ball, croquet and lawn bowling. The Game Lounge has table tennis and virtual gaming with KinectTM systems.
The expanded Fitness Center and Aerobics Studio pairs a state-of-the-art gym with spectacular ocean views in a multi-tiered facility. Passengers with no experience at all with such places (me) and those in advanced programs ashore should both be comfortable with an array of challenging exercise options and (hopefully) be able to take new skills back home after their voyage.
Treadmills, recumbent bicycles, elliptical machines, strength equipment, as well as a selection of free weights, most with personal TV screens, and some with an interactive, virtual experience promise to make exercising more fun and engaging.
A new, private aerobics studio will host a selection of fitness classes, including TRX suspension training bodyweight exercise, MyRide indoor cycling, Body Sculpt Boot Camp and Chi Ball Yoga.
But Princess has not forgotten top deck relaxation and offers the Escape Completely version of outdoor engagement.
Much the talk of the industry, and extending 28 feet beyond the starboard side of the ship, the SeaWalk looks to be one of the ship’s most striking features. Much as the Skywalkers observation lounge by day, nightclub by night venue defined the profile of Princess grand class ships, the SeaWalk will differentiate these new ships from others at sea.
But there is a huge difference between the two class-defining features.
Skywalkers gave the grand class ships a hot-rod spoiler look which actually decreased the ships operational performance and fuel efficiency. So much that Princess recently removed it from Grand Princess which we sailed not long ago. (see Renewed, refreshed cruise ships court a new generation of traveler) It was a remarkable feature in 1998 when first introduced. A decade later, not so much.
The new SeaWalk is smoothly integrated with smooth lines that gradually bring it out and take it back into the ship’s hull. More of a made-for-speed attraction, the SeaWalk sports breathtaking views of the ocean and actually sticks out farther than the wings of the ship’s bridge. To provide an unobstructed view for those people that steer the ship, Princess has an elaborate system of closed-circuit cameras and monitors on the bridge.
Looking down is a double edged experience.
Gazing straight down, through the clear (thick) glass floor, we can see all the way down to the ocean floor, 128 feet below. A piece of cake for skydivers, interesting to most but about like looking over the side of the Empire State Building for the less than hearty.
Peeping back at the ship from the Seawalk we see right down on to the balconies of the top few decks of the ship. On the up side, those Peek-A-Boo cabins are also in a recessed area of the ship which should reduce windy conditions when in the open sea. But that might also mean that those in the center of the inward crescent look to the left and right seeing their neighbors rather than where the ship is headed or has been.
Walking out on the balcony in the morning with a cup of coffee in your birthday suit? Be sure to wave at the kids on the Seawalk.
Thinking this is a good place for perverts with binocams? Gentlemen, maybe. Ladies in dresses, not so much. The views work both ways you see.
On the other side of the ship, in perfect symmetry, is the SeaView Bar, which also extends out over the ocean but subs cocktails for interesting views.
Stepping out on to the open deck, we see a theme that could be said to be the glue that holds all the different elements of the Royal and Regal Princess experience together: wide open spaces and little clutter.
The normal top deck elements we find on all cruise ships are there. Satellite balls but four of them (indicating yet-announced high speed Internet capability to those that count such things) a large video screen, this one the ultimate Movies Under The Stars screen with all the bells and whistles of the latest technology, a subtle funnel minus the (fake) jet engines on other Princess ships but retaining the Princess trademark SeaWitch.From that point on, Princess has wiped the deck clean and started over. But rather than junk up the top deck with amusement part rides, wave pools or taco stands, they begin with a centrally located island between two large, fresh water pools.
By day, that island is filled with deck chairs. But by night, when passengers normally lose interest in sun-oriented activities, that’s when the show begins. Architectural lighting effects set the mood and the island area between the two pools becomes a stage showcasing an interactive sound and light show featuring dancing fountains as nearly 100 water jets shoot 33 feet into the night sky. On our tour, the area was still very much a hard-hat construction zone so no dancing was done, but we do look forward to seeing this on our return in June for the inaugural sailing of Royal Princess.
Still, Princess is all about the experience, providing passengers with the tools to escape completely, whatever that might mean to them and even in a construction zone.
On our tour of Royal Princess the first stop was the ship’s bridge where I was happy to see Captain Tony Draper who we had sailed with several times before. One of those Captains that you see out and about with his “guests” on the ship Captain Draper is a very approachable man.
Coming along with us on the tour, Draper was cornered for questioning all the way, handling all with the grace and ability afforded seafaring professionals who have been at it for quite some time.
I could not help but think of how far Princess had some since our first introduction to the line and its iconic Captain Merrill Stubing on TV’s The Love Boat. Gavin MacLeod’s role as Stubbing continues today as a brand ambassador for the line. A really nice man, now in his 80′s, I have to think that he would appreciate one new feature on Royal Princess that was indeed ready to go during our visit:
It sure brought a tear to this old sailor’s eye and stands as rock-solid, viable evidence that this latest work from Princess Cruises has not forgotten who they came to the dance with. Better yet, Princess has set the stage and has all the elements in place to re-define their own mantra, enabling both long-time guests and yet-to-sail friends the ultimate in ability to Escape Completely as never before.
That’s up next in Escape Completely Just The Start On Royal Princess as this series continues as we examine the base Princess Cruise experience and what Royal and Regal Princess bring to make it even better.
- Escape Completely Just The Start On Royal Princess
- Royal Princess Dining: Actually, They Do Have Something For Everyone
- Royal Princess: Love Boat Fans Listen Up
- Royal Princess, By The Numbers
- Royal Princess: Your Questions Answered, Frankly
In case you missed it-
- Royal And Regal Princess: Two Good Looking Twins
- Facebook Gallery- Royal Princess Yard Visit
- Pinterest Board- Royal Princess
- Pinterest Board- Regal Princess
Chris recently visited the Fincantieri Shipyards in Monfalcone, Italy to witness the float out ceremony for Regal Princess and tour under-construction Royal Princess. Hosted by Princess Cruises, the thoughts here are his own and no expectations for the content of this series was anticipated by the cruise line.