Celebrating its christening today is Enchanted Princess, the newest ship from Princess Cruises. Blessed with three godmothers, the ship is holding its naming ceremony today. It will offer Caribbean itineraries for the next few weeks before heading for European sailings in early 2022.
Its three godmothers are all members of The Explorers Club and highly recognized for their marine achievements (oceanography and mapping the oceans among other things). Captain Lynn Danaher is a United States Coast Guard Licensed Master and Dive Master. Dr. Vicki Ferrini focuses her work on preserving data and mapping the vast majority of the ocean. Jenifer Austin is part of the team that created the first virtual map of the ocean via Google Earth and Google Maps. She also launched Underwater Streetview in Google Maps and Global Fishing Watch.
Princess Cruises has a fleet of modern and entertaining ships, but Enchanted Princess has lots of new perks, too. These include new Sky Suites that come with their own butler plus 1,000 square-foot balcony, said to be the largest at sea for Princess.
For all who sail aboard the 3,660-passenger Enchanted Princess, there is plenty to explore. Here are five of the best reasons to set sail on this gleaming new ship.
The specialty dining
Any cruise ship worth its marine salt has great dining, but Enchanted Princess outdoes itself when it comes to specialty dining, some of which is free. There are more than two dozen bars and restaurants aboard giving travelers plenty of choice. It starts with the main dining rooms that serve a la carte meals atop white table cloths. A favorite of guests is Gigi’s. This treasured pizzeria is an included eatery that bakes up tasty pizza pies and calzones. These are served fresh to order with magnificent ocean views.
Another popular venue is the atrium’s sushi bar although it carries a modest surcharge per roll. Here, guests can dine on fresh seafood or vegetarian options within earshot of live entertainment. The garlic and oil edamame is a great way to get the meal started.
For a modest surcharge, every night of the sailing can have a different style of cuisine. Three Michelin Star Chef Emmanuel Renaut oversees the French menu at Bistro Sur La Mer. Sabatini’s is a Princess signature serving Italian fare including al dente pasta dishes. Chef’s Table Lumiere is one of the most premium foodie spots on the ship. Aside from being ensconced in a private dining area and doted on by nearly a dozen servers, the meal is delicious. Each course comes with a specific wine pairing and a marvelously intricate explanation from the chef.
Crown Grill Steakhouse serves prime cuts of beef while The Salty Dog Gastropub has excellent burgers and salads. Even the 16th floor buffet spot (the staff serve dishes to guests) has something for every palate. Always available is fresh fruit for dessert, which was a plus. For those with a sweet tooth, cakes, pastries and other desserts are baked fresh daily.
Insider tips: don’t miss the housemade gelato in the atrium and the movie-time popcorn on the 16th deck each evening. People can curl up with a blanket by the pool to watch blockbuster movies every night.
Al fresco relaxation
There are so many spots on this ship to take a relaxing dip. For starters, there are four main swimming pools. Two are on the main pool deck on the 16th floor with another at the aft of the ship, primed for sunset views. The staff provides towels to use by the pool, and no matter where you sit, there’s a great view. Live music and the occasional staff-led activities take place throughout the cruise. On sea days, the main pool deck is popular, but there are plenty of hidden pool and lounge areas where you can relax.
One of those hot spots is The Retreat, a free, adults-only area to sit back and relax. A separate bar is available here, and guests can relax in the shade of cabana seating or on deck chairs across two levels. You can always grab a slice of pizza, burger or barbecue to enjoy by the pool. There’s even soft-serve ice cream that is perfect on a warm day.
If you’re after bubbles (not the drinking kind), there are plenty of whirlpools around the top decks. Towels are available from stations around the top decks. Another popular diversion, especially around sunset, is the top-floor jogging track. You’ll also find a putting green at the very top of the ship as well as basketball court.
This special area carries an extra charge, but comes with plenty of meaty benefits to cover it. For starters, the doting service here is impeccable. You won’t lift a finger from positioning your chair in the sun with the right amount of towels to ordering free refreshments. The menu includes a health-focused selection, and afternoon tea carts make the rounds daily. Don’t miss the savory gazpacho or bento boxes filled with fresh fruit or veggies.
This private area is at the front of the ship, and it enjoys some of the best views. Make a reservation early as sea days are especially popular. With fewer people, you will feel that the sun deck is all yours. A private whirlpool, bathroom and bar stand at the ready. This is similar to what other cruises offer, which provides a quieter area to relax.
For those that don’t want to pay for The Sanctuary, the ship has another area known as The Retreat. This is a quieter, adults-only pool with fewer guests since many people may not know where it is. The Retreat is adjacent to The Sanctuary at the front of the ship, and there are both shady and sunny areas. You can ensconce yourself in a relaxing spot with great views, a pair of whirlpools and a private swimming enclave. Enchanted Princess has plenty of areas where you can relax in privacy.
No matter if you like to catch the latest flicks on the top deck (popcorn in hand) or you love live music, Enchanted Princess is for you. Live entertainment swoons and croons in the atrium for tea time, on sea days, and in the evening hours. DJs perform for the lounge’s soiree hours while talented bands keep the pool decks in party mode. No matter the hour, there always seems to be something happening.
Among its many theatrical shows are Rock Opera, which debuted on an earlier Princess ship to great acclaim. Guests can rock it out to their favorite songs from decades past while performers showcase their talents to the tunes of live music. The theatrics of the whole show, as well as the technical capabilities of the stage, are pretty impressive.
Elsewhere around the ship, you’ll find live music and performers offering entertainment, which is plentiful and varies by night. Especially popular are the sailaway show the first night that draws everyone to the top deck as well as steel drum performances other nights.
In addition to the hotel’s casino, the cruise line is one of the first to add a sports book to its activity roster. You can bet on a variety of games, matches and players, even via your phone. If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, The Enclave is a relaxation area within the spa. It features sauna and steam room facilities, a plunge pool with massaging jets and heated beds.
Princess uses a Medallion system on its ships that is different than other cruise lines. Rather than carrying a standard room key that you would use to scan for extras or to enter your cabin, this water, heat and sand-resistant fob makes it easier. Instead, you use a medallion (worn as a necklace, bracelet, around your neck or in your pocket).
Everyone will be glad to see this system since it relies on the Wi-Fi setup. And Princess’ wireless internet is pretty amazing. Since it uses two satellite systems, it is among the best Wi-Fi systems at sea. It relies on the cloud to keep its systems up and running, and those that pay for it will agree.
Another perk of the Medallion system is the engagement with crew. Through their own device, they know your name and personal preferences each time they engage with you. This is such a nice touch because if you find your favorite spot on the ship, after a few days, the crew knows what you want. You can also order whatever you like, whenever you want, to wherever you want. This type of service is quite rare since it uses location technology (and the ship’s Wi-Fi) to find you. It’s kind of like the Amazon Go store where you can purchase something without having to sign anything.
While wireless internet is not free, it is fast, and every room has its own access point to make sure what you pay for is speedy. No matter where you walk on the ship, you can scan your medallion to see your information on a larger screen. This can help you discover more about activities you signed up for or reservations you might have. It can also help you locate other people linked to your account. This may be especially helpful for families since parents can keep tabs on their kids.
While the cruise line is ramping up its operations (the ship is only at 60-70% at the moment), those that cruise now will have more of the ship to themselves. It’s a great time to sail.
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.