Observations on Princess Cruises

Cruise ship Royal Princess

Royal Princess

Because I cruise so often, people often ask me which is the best cruise line. I always answer that it depends upon your lifestyle and tastes. Each of the major cruise lines sets out to present a different cruise experience. At the extremes, some seek to present a lively party atmosphere while others seek to present a refined cultural experience. If you want a party experience, you are not going to be happy on a culturally-orientated ship no matter how well the cruise line presents its concerts and lectures.

With that caveat, I thought I would do a series of postings offering some general observations about the various cruise lines. Hopefully, this will give you some indication of whether a particular cruise line is for you.

Recently, I have been cruising on a number of the Princess Cruises ships. Therefore, I thought I would start this series with Princess Cruises.

In the U.K. a few years ago, Princess ran an advertising campaign that characterized the line as “American luxury.” I think that was a good description. To me, the Princess cruise experience is one of relaxed sophistication. It is upmarket but not stuffy.

Based on my observations rather than on any scientific study, people who travel on Princess tend to be educated and what used to be called upper middle class. Their tastes are correspondingly sophisiticated but they also like to relax in the sun by the pools or in the adults-only Sanctuary area. Hairy legs competitions and throw the cruise director in the pool are not for this crowd.

While Americans and Canadians dominate, there is usually a good mix of nationalities with the U.K. well-represented.

The passengers range in age from young families to retired people. Of course, the mix of ages depends upon the time of year (less children when school is in session) and the itinerary (some routes attract a more mature crowd). As is true throughout the industry, the average age goes up along with the length of the voyage.

I often meet experienced cruisers on Princess ships. The line has a very strong loyalty program and a devoted following. But, I find that experienced cruisers who travel on Princess also seem to like Celebrity Cruises.

Inside, the public spaces of the Princess ships are eye-catching but at the same time they avoid being glitzy or garish. The interiors of the two latest Princess ships, Royal Princess and Regal Princess, are spectacular. Over several ships, Princess’ interior designer Teresa Anderson developed an elegant signature style for Princess. Beacuse the line’s new ships are so much bigger than the other ships in the Princess fleet, the designers were able to combine space with the traditional Princess style making for a grand result.

I have always found the food on the Princess ships to be to my taste. This is particularly true of the line’s Italian offerings. Early on, Princess merged with the Italian cruise line Sitmar and that Italian heritage is still reflected in the culinary operations on the Princess ships. The Alfredo’s Pizzerias serve the best gourmet pizza at sea – – and it is complimentary.

An important part of Beyondships is our interviews with the people who operate the various cruise ships. I have been impressed with the captains, hotel managers, maitre d’s and cruise directors who I have interviewed at Princess. The people that I have met have been intelligent and able to see the big picture. I believe that this benefits the passengers through increased innovation and efficiency.

They also seem able to motivate the crews to provide good service. Princess calls itself the consumate host and my experience has been that the crew understand that they should act like the passengers are guests, not just customers. Of course, in any business you have some people who just don’t get it but overall the morale and therefore the service level is quite high on Princess.

Overall, Princess is a very strong cruise line.

This week on Beyondships, we have an update on Royal Princess. We have a new photo http://www.beyondships2.com/royal-princess-photo-feature.html and video feature showing the ship in various ports. http://www.beyondships2.com/royal-princess-video.html There is an interview with Hotel General Manager Martin Bristow. http://www.beyondships2.com/royal-princess-hotel-manager-ii.html We also review the Crab Shack dining event http://www.beyondships2.com/royal-princess-crab-shack.html and the Gelatto ice cream parlor. http://www.beyondships2.com/royal-princess-gelato.html

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