Sky High Transatlantic Cruising with Princess Cruises
A transatlantic cruise from Ft.Lauderdale to Southampton, U.K. affords the perfect opportunity to assess what makes Princess Cruises the cruise line of choice for its thousands of devoted followers. It comes as no surprise that a stress free itinerary of 16 days capped off with engaging ports of call culminates with me becoming one of them.
I can”t explain why in forty years of cruising I’d never set foot on a Princess ship but now realize what I’ve been missing. Neo-traditional best describes a newly discovered cruise experience aboard the 3,660 passenger Sky Princess. The highly respected cruise brand has blended time tested cruise traditions into an invigorated product that defies the tendency of gimmickry prevalent in other lines, yet embraces innovative trends that define modern day cruising.
The technology driven MedallionClass initiative results in a smart ship experience. Touch free boarding, room key, contactless payment and even locating your loved ones onboard provides for effortless reality with a quarter sized wearable disk shape device. The MedallionClass all in one app creates a playbook and ship guide at your fingertips.
Looking Up At The Sky
Launched in 2019 shortly before the pandemic pause, a glimpse of the ship’s exterior aesthetic displays a virtual eight deck wall of deluxe balconied staterooms, a sleek look that could easily be interchangeable with other ships of its size. But one step inside and all eyes are drawn to the Piazza, the ship’s gorgeous multilevel atrium.
An artist’s palette of soft gold, ivory and yellow hues with tasteful lighting and rich wood accents paints a backdrop to the elegant spiral stairways that weave their way upward, framing the warm ambiance of the centerpiece venue. A small offset stage contributes an entertainment component with jazz and easy listening quartets as well as a classical string duo.
Flanked by a gelato shop, Vines Wine Bar and the International Cafe on the lower level, one deck up you’ll discover Alfredo’s Pizzeria and the Ocean Terrace sushi bar offering intermission bites between or before meal times. The French inspired Bistro Sur La Mer and Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria provide refined dining opportunities close to the action.
A Taste of Elegance
While reservations for specific restaurants are available, the Dine My Way program allows for open seating meal times in the ship’s Cielo and Estrella main restaurants. Club Class stateroom guests enjoy complimentary access to personalized service in the more intimate Soleil Restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The highly acclaimed Crown Grill steakhouse restaurant goes well beyond exceptionally prepared top cuts of aged beef by offering creative seafood entrees and exclusive appetizers like the Black and Blue French Onion Soup prepared with Roquefort blue cheese and Jack Daniels black label whiskey.
Princess Cruises earns high praise from their hallmark Chef’s Table Lumiere, an opportunity to savor an extravagant gastronomic adventure that will tickle intrepid tastebuds. Dine in elegance at an elaborately decorated table with service inspired by Michelin style traditions. Hosted by the ship’s maitre’d” and executive chef, it is a multi course presentation of culinary creations and paired vintage wines and champagne. Reservations are a must as the event is limited to twelve persons per sitting.
Activity In and Out
Relaxation is implied but if you are looking for something to entertain leisure time there are virtual non-stop activities. Inside decks six and seven are bustling thoroughfares of entertainment. Take Five is a smaller club like lounge that features a jazz trio as well as musical performances by the ship’s diverse musicians. The Vista Lounge plays host to a talented house band playing all genres of music for listening and dancing while night owls can dance till the wee hours with the ship’s DJ. The quest to harness Lady Luck is always a possibility in the ship’s bustling casino.
Princess Live is game show central with ongoing trivia contests, dance lessons and audience participation activities and a lineup of shows that spotlight guest entertainers, comedians and elaborate production shows are featured nightly in the Princess Theater.
Outside, sun seekers will find a slice of sun drenched paradise by the twin pools, surrounded by hot tubs. Without ever leaving your lounge chair you can watch daily afternoon concerts on the giant projection screen that towers overhead with movies under the stars playing nightly. If you feel the need to get away, make your way to the adults only Sanctuary pool, exactly what the name implies. Work on your pickle ball skills on a double court or putt around or play bocce ball on the open deck courts.
Well worn excuses vanish with a well equipped gym, fitness programs and daily Zumba classes but no alibis are needed to reward yourself with a dose of deserved pampering in the Lotus Spa. Trained therapists reinvigorate worn muscles in every imaginable treatment and an afternoon in the Enclave is time well spent. This suite of seclusion features a bubbling hydrothermal pool, a Turkish hammam, a steamy Roman style Calderian and a dry heat Lanconium. Cocoon yourself into the warmth of the heated ceramic tile loungers for an unforgettable day of indulgence.
The appeal of exotic destinations in a port intensive cruise is certainly understandable but if time allows, an extended cruise with multiple days at sea provides detoxification from everyday routine and introspect into the benefits of stress free travel.