I am pretty new to the world of cruises.
My holiday thought process tends to go a little bit like this – a few possible destinations, would I like the food, interesting activities, culture and the arts, how easy is it to get there, how easy it is to travel around, accommodation and anything else. Then after a whole load of research and quite a bit of back and forth, I finally narrow it down to one destination and book away. Most times it is a hit, every now and then is a miss, but generally I have a great time.
Then I got introduced to the idea of cruises and realised that there is a whole other way of doing things. What if I could get to see multiple destinations in one journey with zero planning on my part? Not only that, but I can get to see the sites I want to see or take part in activities without a single bit of transportation hassle. What if I can stay in the same stunning comfy accommodation as I visit the destination. And best of all what if the getting there is as much fun as the actual destinations?
This is what I wanted to explore more of, as I headed of on a press trip on the Royal Princess Cruise ship with the lovely team from Princess Cruises.
The ship itself is a destination and I could see how easy it is to not actually want to get off it. Walking in to the elegantly decorated atrium just gave me a wow moment as I centred myself and immediately loved the vibe. My eye was automatically drawn to the piano and music set – which I can imagine filling the whole space with lovely sound. But the foodie in me promptly spotted all the eating and drinking spots dotted around the atrium. You get such a wide choice, a real vibe and the chance to feel that you’re really entering a new experience.
Why go on a cruise with Princess Cruises?
So why should you choose to go on a cruise with Princess cruises? Well to answer that I figured I would give you the reasons why I would choose them and let you make up your own mind.
Food, more than anything, can make or break a holiday for me. I need good food, I need it to taste good, I need choice, and I need it when I need it.
So I was rather pleased to go behind the scenes and meet the teams who were responsible for the 115 tons of food that gets consumed on board each cruise. A quick tour through their kitchens revealed staff hard at work whipping everything up from scratch which means they know exactly what goes into the food. Treats like pizza, rolls, croissants, soups pasta, salads, ice cream and more. Basically, you name it and they make it. For the cook in me, seeing their galleys and hearing about the sheer amount of effort they put into providing food for their guests brought home to me the backroom buzz needed to give such good service.
There are various choices for on-board dining. First off there is the dining included in any booking. The choices are endless aka buffet choice in the horizontal court, to award winning gourmet pizza in Alfredo’s pizza, from the 24hr international café to the poolside traditional southern bbq at the Trident grill. Plus, they came up with the rather awesome dedicated pastry shop where foodies indulge in fresh-baked goodies throughout the day.
Food lovers who want to go one step further can for an extra fee try their specialty dining. You can choose the to join a select number of guests for a multi course meal at Chef’s Table Lumiere or Shellfish lovers could try out some Bayou-style boiled crawfish and spicy sausage, or steaming clam chowder at The Crab Shack. Alternatively there is aged steak at the award winning Crown Grill or for a more memorable and romantic meal eat in the privacy of your balcony, getting that delicious restaurant experience, in private.
I was fortunate enough to eat (although a special menu) in the Sabatini restaurant. A light and creamy perfectly cooked pasta to start, followed by a flaky white fish on a bed of leek, finished of with a face-plant worth rich chocolate hazelnut sponge with custard was just the sort of fuel that kept me wanting. You might even be lucky enough to see Timothy Gallant (erm fan girl moment) walk through which can only be the perfect end to your rather perfect meal.
Peeps, I also wholeheartedly recommend a stop at the rather fabulous Ice cream café. The mahoosive sundaes, come in a gazillion flavours and are topped with whipped cream and various treats, and are the best thing since sliced bread. No lie.
Now one thing about a cruise is it is a time to appreciate good food – AND GOOD DRINK. These guys handily have a drinks bar in the absolutely perfect ‘just where’ they are needed spots. So the idea of being able to sit in a specialist martini bar and have specialist martinis mixed for me is fantastic. (No Christmas martini, though… hm. Will have to ask about that next time.)
Even better is the the fact that the Sea View bar comes with its very own ‘Cocktail’ style show along with all the bottle throwing and cherry catching antics you can imagine. The louder you cheer the better the barmen get.
And they have a wonderful wine bar, ‘Vines’, which has about 30 different wines by the glass, plus has tapas – seriously, this is somewhere I can see myself sitting in for many an evening.
Wine lovers, this one is for you. The ‘new to me’ wine blending sessions looked like a really fun to do. First you get taken through a wine tasting experience before settling down to creating your own signature wine blend using the aromas and flavours that get your taste buds tingling. They use a selection of red wines (cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and Malbec) from the Silverado Vinyards. Although I did not get to try it myself I can see how much fun this would be.
These guys seem to have it made in terms of excursions. They have local experts as guides and offer different tour sizes, depending on what you want. Which really jams with me – I have days when I want to be part of the vibe in a big group, days when I want to be quieter with a smaller one. Fancy a wine tasting tour with very knowledgeable guide and very enthusiastic experts- well they have your back. Or if you just want to soak in the local sights then you can do that too.
Plus, I am really excited to read that they have an exclusive partnership with Animal Planet and Discovery family tours – more than a thousand of them! So I know that when I get on this cruise, I’d be spoilt for choice and, with their best price guarantee aka find the same tour for less, and they will refund you 110%, I get the peace of mind that I really want………
More signature features and romance
If like me you have always dreamt of staying in one of those over the water huts in far flung sunny places like Mauritius then you would appreciate their 60ft long over-the-ocean glass walkway, the SeaWalk. At 128 feet above the waves and 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship this first of its kind walkway offers you stunning views of the constantly changing seas below and around you. I can quite easily image spending an hour or two sipping cocktails and drooling at the breath-taking views.
Then head over to the one of the most romantic spots on the ship – aka the private cabanas either in the Sanctuary spa or the retreat pool. You get to sit back and relax in your private spots but can still be part of everything going on.
Or cuddle up under a light fleece blanket under the stars, grab a snack and a cocktail and watch a movie or concert on the largest screen at sea. Pretty awesome date right?
Tip- To make the cabana experience even more special, order a special picnic basket complete with artisan treats and premium wines.
This is another area where the ship becomes a destination, because with all the entertainment on offer it is easy to choose to stay on board, no matter how tempting the actual cruise destinations are.
Princess Cruises have made sure that there is certainly always something for everyone. So for example two of my favourite things to do are go to the theatre and soak in some culture at a museum or gallery. And if you are anything like me then you would be excited to know that the ship has a 900 odd people capacity theatre (and everyone has a good sight line – take note West End. Plus there is an art gallery which showcases some of the 4000 pieces of art on the ship.
Other entertainment options include; hanging out by the stunning swimming pool swimming, taking in the daily and nightly water and music show, making an appearance at the rather fun television studio in which guests can enjoy live talk shows, demonstrations and performers here, including the daily Wake Show. Sporty folk (aka not me) can get their daily dose of exercise playing basket-ball, volley-ball or winding down with a game of ping pong. Me, well you will find me relaxing in the rather lovely sanctuary spa.
And then – of course there is Club 6 – what better way to end a day than with a real boogie.
Summer or winter there are some fabulous destinations that this ship is going to. What could be more glorious than to sail the Mediterranean, in the same waters that Odysseus, the Phoenicians, the same waters outside Athens where the Greeks defeated the Persians at the battle of Salamis; the chance to visit Venice, once Europe’s leading seafaring nation, by sea – the same way its great merchant adventurers used to see it.
And in the winter, well, the ship I visited winters in the Caribbean – a magical sea, once the home of Arawaks and Caribs, then of Spanish and European settlers, of pirates and buccaneers. Now of course the home of delicious food, great music, fantastic rum and of course, the greatest cricket team ever (if you don’t remember the West Indies in its heyday, you haven’t lived).
Anyway – how to end my list? Because I could keep on going through either the things I saw, or the things that I was told about and wanted to experience for ages. But really, in a nutshell, from what I have seen, a Princess Cruise is something I would love to go on, I can imagine myself in the Caribbean, sipping a drink, watching the sunset, thinking about dining on delicious food soon, and being in heaven.
I suppose I had better get booking!
With thanks to the absolutely lovely Charlotte, Laura and Princess Cruises who hosted me on this really amazing trip. I am already planning my next cruise with them and can’t wait. All opinions and travel love are my own.