Royal Princess

One of the 'wow' factors is the ship's sleek Upper Deck.

One of the ‘wow’ factors is the ship’s sleek Upper Deck.

Stepping on board the new 3,560-passenger Royal Princess, devoted fans of the “Love Boat” line will breathe a sigh of relief.

In designing its first new ship in five years (since Ruby Princess), Princess Cruises knew better than to mess with a good thing.

This 141,000-ton, Italian-built ship—which has its American debut from Fort Lauderdale in late-October—is the largest and most contemporary ship in the Princess fleet. But it doesn’t stray from providing the classic-style cruising experience the line is known for.

Such is the welcome-back feeling on board, that cabin hallways on Royal Princess are decorated with 1,000 photos submitted by past Princess passengers.

There was no giving in to the trend of waterparks and other amusement-park-at-sea attractions here.

Top-producing agents on board for the ship’s naming festivities in Southampton, UK, in June, said that’s a very good thing.

“I’m on this brand-new Royal Princess and it’s clearly a Princess ship,” says Matthew Eichhorst, president of Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

“They want the guests to be able to go from the other ships onto this ship and still find continuity,” adds Bill Smith, v.p. of cruise sales for Virtuoso. “That to me is ‘wow.’”

The 141,000-ton Royal Princess is Princess Cruises' first new ship in five years.

The 141,000-ton Royal Princess is Princess Cruises’ first new ship in five years.

the ‘wow’ factor

The “wow” factor comes in the form of the SeaWalk and SeaView Bar, spaces on an upper deck that cantilever 28 ft. off the ship with glass floors so that you can see views of the sea some 128 ft. below (acrophobes, steer clear).

But the ship’s most stellar feature is its Piazza atrium. Princess has put much focus on its atriums of late, making them centers for dining, drinking, entertainment and people-watching (it has even expanded them on older ships during dry docks).

On Royal Princess, the Piazza is an elegant, theatrical 3-deck space where the floors are marble, the lights sparkle, water burbles in fountains and one feels like royalty walking the grand undulating staircases or watching the crowd from the balconies.

Guests can hang out in the Piazza listening to live music, snack on sushi at the new seafood venue Ocean Terrace, eat

the excellent, complimentary Neapolitan-style pizza at the expanded Alfredo’s, people-watch as they sip a latte at the 24-hour International Cafe or sample the tasty treats at the largest gelato shop at sea. It’s not unlike being in the piazza of a small Italian town, in fact.

“They continue to evolve the Piazza. It’s an even larger space to do more things. They’ve really done a good job with that. It’s quite grand,” points out Eichhorst.

To be clear, a lot of what’s new is fee-based—from the gelato to the sushi to the signature champagne drinks at the new Bellini’s bar. So agents should prepare clients for the fact that they will be tantalized by extras. And a lot of these extras—including spa treatments, poolside cabana rentals, a reservation at the chef’s table are, in fact, ideal for your well-heeled clients, although they are not commissionable.

“I think Princess’ objective is to keep the price point attractive and make it easier for a client that way. Consider who the audience is, consider the price point, and sell it that way,” advises Smith.

The ship offers everything from a chef's table-at-sea to a steakhouse.

The ship offers everything from a chef’s table-at-sea to a steakhouse.

updated spaces

One thing passengers won’t find in the atrium is the reception and shore excursion desks. They’ve been moved to an adjacent mini atrium.

Right next door, in prime Deck 5 real estate, is the ship’s expanded Lotus Spa. Moving the spa from the traditional position on a top deck to the center of action was a bold move, but also means a prime marketing opportunity—you literally can’t avoid walking by.

With the extra space come enhancements including The Enclave, a new for-a-fee relaxation area with a hydrotherapy pool, specialized steam and sauna rooms, a hammam, and a pair of twin waterbeds. The spa also has new couples’ villas with whirlpools. In fact, recommend to your spa aficionados a massage for two that starts at $449 for 110 minutes. Or, up to four people can share a package that combines spa treatments with such treats as caviar and champagne (from $1,500).

The ship’s oceanview fitness area is separate on an upper deck. It’s next door to the expansive children’s facilities, which include age-appropriate indoor spaces plus an outdoor playground with tricycles for little ones and an outdoor lounging area with wading pool for teens.

Adults (18+) will find expanded outdoor areas just for them, too, whether lounging for free by the lovely Retreat Pool or paying a fee to relax in the plush sunning area, The Sanctuary.

In both places, those looking for privacy can book curtained cabanas (a first for Princess, but popular on some other lines) that come with lots of goodies, including a personal TV with noise-reducing wireless headphones, cushy sofas, luxurious robe and slippers, a welcome cocktail, and healthy snacks including nuts, and dried and fresh fruit (in The Sanctuary cabanas). Cabana rental is from $50 for a half-day at The Retreat, and from $80 at The Sanctuary. Those booking a cabana can also pamper themselves with a gourmet picnic featuring a bottle of wine paired with antipasti, artisan sandwiches, pizza and fresh-baked desserts (from $40). For big spenders, the two high-ceiling Royal Villas in The Sanctuary are some of the most extravagant open-air spaces at sea.

The main pool is outfitted with an impressive fountain that does double duty as a fun water spray area during the day and the water feature in nighttime water-and-light shows—some of which also make use of the ship’s largest-in-the-fleet Movies Under the Stars screen.

staterooms with views

A key selling feature will no doubt be the fact that all the Royal Princess’ outside cabins come with balconies—including in a moderate price range. And there are 1,438 outside cabins to choose from. The ship has also introduced a new cabin category, Deluxe Balcony, which brings a little more space than standard balcony cabins and some of the amenities found in mini-suites, including an upgraded duvet and comfy waffle robes.

Most balconies on this ship are smaller than on other Princess ships—a move the line explains was made so the larger ship wouldn’t be too top heavy.

The staterooms, meanwhile, have a new and pleasing contemporary decor and a bunch of subtle updates including larger showers with handheld showerheads, square bathroom sinks (providing more storage space), upholstered headboards and pillow-top mattresses. The cabins have also been outfitted with larger flat-screen TVs for a new on-demand system the line created in-house—with a bunch of TV shows and movies to watch, all free (it’s already a customer favorite).

There are five basic types of cabins your clients can choose from: Inside, Standard Balcony, Deluxe Balcony, Mini-suite and Suites (the largest 705 sq. ft. with a wraparound balcony). Additionally, there are 50 adjoining cabins that are available for families. Those seeking accessible accommodations can choose from any category except Deluxe Balcony—with 36 total accessible cabins.

An eco-friendly feature: Cabin lighting is activated when you place your keycard in a reader at the door.

dining delights

Princess was the first to introduce a chef’s table at sea, and on Royal Princess the experience gets a home at Chef’s Table Lumiere ($115, perfect for your culinary high-brows), a cleverly illuminated space in the center of one of the main dining rooms (a curtain of light makes the space private). The ever-changing menu is based on the chef’s daily whim and is paired with wine ($115 pp).

Guests looking for a special night out can also dine (for $25 pp) at the Crown Grill steakhouse or Sabatini’s, newly connected to pre-dinner bars—the Wheelhouse Bar and Vines, respectively.

The Royal Princess debuts a reconfigured Horizon Court buffet with more action stations including a hibachi grill and taco bar, and a new first-of-its-kind Pastry Shop dessert area, where treats include fruit dipped in chocolate and yummy cupcakes, among other sweets.

that’s entertainment

At the largest-in-the-fleet Princess Theater, the line has debuted its four new streamlined 30-minute music and dance shows—which make creative use of state-of-the-art technology including LED screens. The ship also debuted a first-of-its-kind TV studio, Princess Live!, the hub for interactive game shows, comedy shows and cooking demos and a daily cruise director-hosted TV show, “The Wake Show,” broadcast ship-wide (expect lots of laughs).

The line continues to have a large number of live performers, including in the Piazza—we counted five pianists alone listed in the daily line-up. The water-and-light shows on deck attracted a sizeable crowd—despite the fact temperatures were cool in Southampton (these will no doubt be a hit when the ships sail to the Caribbean).

target demographic

Agents on board during the christening ceremonies said Royal Princess was well suited for couples ages 55+ seeking a relaxed atmosphere, rather than the frenetic pace of most new ships.

Bragging rights also count, says Blaine Lambert, COO of Cruise Experts in Vancouver.

“Princess already appeals to a wide range of people. But with the way they have configured the venues, and even having Kate as godmother, this is going to appeal to younger people who want a little more excitement,” he says.

The Royal Princess summers in the Mediterranean and winters in the Caribbean, cruising from Fort Lauderdale (late-October to April). Seven-night cruises from $699 inside; from $999 for a balcony cabin.

fast facts

Passengers: 3,560 Decks: 19 Cabins: 1,780 Length: 1,083 ft. Service speed: 22 knots Tonnage: 141,000

trivia fact

The Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) serves as godmother of the Royal Princess. This is the third ship, in fact, with the “Royal Princess” name. Prince William’s mother, Princess Diana, christened the first Royal Princess ship in 1984.

Archived related articles (available on
Celebrity Reflection (February 2013)

contact information
Princess Cruises:
(800) 774-6237; or (travel agent login)


Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth

The Royal Spa delivers luxury treatments aboard Queen Elizabeth.

The Royal Spa delivers luxury treatments aboard Queen Elizabeth.

Start spreading the news: Cunard’s celebrated code for evening attire has changed—a significant happening duly noted by Recommend on a summer sail around the British Isles aboard Queen Elizabeth.

“It took place in spring soon after the World Voyages,” says Janice Collins, social hostess. “We maintain a high standard of dress and still have the same number of formal nights—for instance, on a 10-day cruise you get three formal nights—but now instead of three dress codes there are only two, ‘Formal’ and ‘Informal.’ The previous ‘Semiformal,’ which had designated a dress for ladies, has become ‘Informal,’ allowing for a dressy pants outfit, and though jackets are still required for gentlemen, ties are now optional.”

“Elegant Casual,” formerly in the evening lineup, is now altogether out of the fashion picture. And while well-groomed eyebrows would surely soar if a passenger showed up in casual mode in the festive Queens Room on formal nights, the Lido buffet and restaurants are always available, Collins adds, as a “relaxed alternative” for dining. The Garden Lounge bar also welcomes those who opt out of evening wear on formal nights. “The code change,” Collins says, “is for the convenience of guests, who will now need less luggage.”

If we appear to be making a big deal about dress requirements, well…with Cunard, the dress code is a big deal. A very big deal. Strictly adhered to, with no nonsense. These, after all, are the ships where memory-making nights in white satin (or red silk or black sequins) are a given. The momentous change, which kicked in as flagship Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth set out in April and May on this year’s main cruising season, may represent a loosening of ties, as it were. But, praise be, there’s no loss of the electric sense of occasion that pulses throughout the ship when women glamour up in sparkly gowns and men give 007 a run for his black tie panache. In today’s sailing scene (and, for that matter, most other scenes), where dressing up is sometimes viewed as a quaint custom of times past, it’s a Cunard signature and a bow to the golden age of ocean travel—an integral aspect of a storied legacy carried on with seamless grace and admirable expertise by the 173-year-old cruise line.

Comments Dorothy Reminick, cruise consultant for Travel Resource in Jupiter, FL, “I am sure there are many, especially Grill passengers, who preferred the formal dress requirements that existed in the past. However, with these being more relaxed now, I think a lot of people who prefer less formal dress will be inclined to try Cunard.”

French cuisine is served at The Verandah.

French cuisine is served at The Verandah.

fit for a queen (or king)

The “Grill passengers” cited by Reminick, who for 30 years was employed by Cunard in reservations and guest relations in both London and New York, are those who reside in one of the 127 Queens Grill and Princess Grill suites, each paired with its own Grill Restaurant, situated in restricted-access privacy on Deck 11 along with a private Grills bar, lounge, and concierge. Other stateroom categories are also linked to their own restaurant, including the Britannia Club, and the 2-deck, art deco-flourished Britannia Restaurant.

Overall, the ship sports 1,046 staterooms, 85 percent of them outside and 71 percent with balconies. The Princess Suite, a popular choice, encompasses 367 sq. ft. with two beds, living area, balcony, bath with tub and shower, walk-in closet, two flat-screen TVs, fine bedding, robe and slippers, and refrigerator. The attractive and comfy but less spacious Club Balcony stateroom, which gives access to the Britannia Club Restaurant, has a small bathroom with shower only.

Queen Elizabeth's elegant Grand Lobby.

Queen Elizabeth’s elegant Grand Lobby.

what’s cooking?

Additional dining options include evening table-service offerings in the Lido ($10) alongside the traditional buffet, with varying themes such as Aztec (Mexican), Asado (South American), and Jasmine (Pan-Asian). Crowning the food chain, there’s The Verandah (a la carte charges apply), with a contemporary French menu and extensive wine list in a chic-but-cozy setting of mirrored columns and white leather chairs. As in the Grills, service in the Verandah is attentive, with tableside cooking and preparation that show off polished skills.

Other options by day include Cafe Carinthia for tasty snacks and the Golden Lion pub, famous for its fish and chips. The round-the-clock Lido serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets.

Art aficionados will enjoy the onboard art gallery.

Art aficionados will enjoy the onboard art gallery.

dressed to the nines

A handsomely-crafted vessel and a sister to Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth is a rich-textured tapestry of elegant double- and triple-height public rooms, captivating art and memorabilia of the line’s icons and enduring links to the Royal Family, and eye-catching art deco accents, with an abundance of rich wood paneling, mosaics, and marbles. Among highlights is a portrait of the reigning monarch by young artist Isobel Peachey, and a stunning marquetry panel depicting the original Queen Elizabeth (the world’s largest liner when launched in 1938) by royal nephew David Linley.

Pricey art and vintage posters are on tap in the respective Clarendon Fine Art Gallery (a proper gallery, not an auction format) and Cunarders’ Gallery, while Royal Arcade shops feature treasures from Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, and Harris Tweed. The Cunard bookshop is the place to stock up on souvenirs commemorating the summer arrival of the newest prince.

Scoring top marks with seagoers are the wondrous library where you could happily hide away for hours—6,000 books strong with a spiral staircase linking two levels of packed shelves; the Insights program of guest speakers; and top-notch entertainment in the beautiful Royal Court Theatre, ranging from classical piano concerts to West End-style performances featuring song and dance. Indeed, music resonates throughout, luring passengers into such lively spots as the Midships Bar and the Deck 10 Yacht Club for late-night dancing.

Dance being the operative word. We’re talking major participation that you’re not likely to encounter elsewhere on the high seas. Frequent dance classes draw a crowd of enthusiasts, who then display their newly honed talents in nightly twirls beneath the glittering chandeliers of the grandly elegant, 2-tier Queens Room and, most notably, at the series of themed balls that boast one of the largest orchestras out there.

“Anytime you enter the Queens Room while a dance instruction class is being held, the room is packed to the rafters,” Reminick says. Not so with other lines.” And teatime? “You can be sure that the British, wherever they might be, will make it back on board for tea.”

Afternoon tea, in fact, ranks right up there with dancing in passenger popularity, and it’s a safe bet that American
cruisers relish the daily pleasure just as much as the Brits. How could they not when it means a chance to feast on oven-warm scones with cream and jam, served in the Queens Room by white-gloved waiters to the murmur of soft strings or a mellow piano.

castles, beatles & guinness

On this 10-day cruise, which set out from Southampton after an arrival day in London and an overnight at handily situated Grosvenor Hotel on Buckingham Palace Road, passengers soaked up well-organized shore tours in Edinburgh, Inverness, Dublin, Liverpool (a pilgrimage to the Beatles museum is a baby boomer must), and the Channel Islands.

Back on board, along with the aforementioned activities, they sampled spa services, hit the casino, showed up for an art talk or book signing or social bridge or whisky tasting, and headed to the pools or covered Games Deck. There’s a staff of nannies and a playroom for children, plus an activity area for teens. But, truly, this is a ship for grown-ups—who have a taste for civilized adventure with a noticeably romantic vibe.


So, who among your clients would love it? “Mature passengers who are looking for quality and willing to pay a bit more for Cunard,” says Tom Baker, president of Houston, TX’s CruiseCenter and an award-winning specialist with 250 voyages under his belt. “It’s a specialty and a brand I know well since first cruising with Cunard in 1977.” What appeals to American clients, he feels, is “the yesteryear traditional experience in a calm atmosphere devoid of noise and loud music. They are quality seekers looking for something different from other contemporary brands, with British history and other touches that ice the cake. The Grills—Princess and Queens—remain opulent and the class system prevails, although lavish caviar helpings have gone by the wayside.”

Notes Dorothy Reminick, cruise consultant for Travel Resource in Jupiter, FL, “Many of my American clients are repeaters. They like the British atmosphere on board and the international clientele.” (On the British Isles cruise, the passenger list included Brits, Americans, and smaller representations of Germans, Japanese, Canadians, and Australians. Of the 253 Americans on board, 134 had previously sailed with Cunard.)

“I would say that the line appeals to educated, professional people, both active and retired,” Reminick adds. “People who enjoy learning and attending classes and lectures—sophisticated beings who enjoy the culture that Cunard specializes in. Cunard attracts those who like to dress for dinner.”

fast facts

Passenger capacity: 2,068 Crew: 997 Guest decks: 12 Length: 964.5 Gross tonnage: 90,900 Draft: 26.2

we three queens

The Cunard Line, operator of the luxury trio Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, has been a stalwart symbol of British refinement since the company’s first paddle-wheel steamer, Britannia, crossed the pond in 1840.

Starting in spring 2014 after the three return from their respective World Voyages, the line will launch a series of transatlantic crossings with varied offerings spotlighting the 10th birthday of flagship ocean liner, 2,592-guest Queen Mary 2, which marked a 200th crossing in July 2013. A celebratory “Three Queens” event will be staged in homeport Southampton on May 9. Fares for a 7-day transatlantic crossing begin at $1,199 pp dbl.

Also on tap next season, the 2,068-guest Queen Elizabeth—youngest of the Cunard royals, fittingly christened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in October 2010—will zero in on the Mediterranean, including 7-day sails with fares from $999 to $1,249, pp dbl. The 2,000-guest Queen Victoria—debuted in 2007—will cruise the British Isles, the Baltic, and the Mediterranean on 7- to 14-day journeys priced from $1,599 to $3,199 pp dbl.

Archived related articles (available on magazine/issue-archive):
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth (August 2011)

contact information
Cunard Line: (800) 728-6273;