When its newest ship, the Royal Princess debuts in June 2013, Princess Cruises will be including some new features as well as enhancing others already onboard their ships.   Princess Cruises just announced that The Royal Princess will be christened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge on June 13 in Southampton. The Duchess of Cambridge follows in the footsteps of her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, who christened the original Royal Princess  in 1984. The Royal Princess is actually 25% larger than the Ruby Princess, the last new ship Princess Cruises introduced in   2008.  Coming in at a cost of $760 million, the Royal Princess will have 1780 staterooms to accommodate 3,600 guests, but will still keep its focus on intimate areas and even more variety when it comes to the onboard experience.

Royal princess New Features Include the Outdoor Top Deck Experience

Yes, the Royal Princess literally goes over the edge with its first ever SeaWalk, a cruise industry “first.” This promenade, which extends 28 feet over the side of the ship, has a see through glass floor. Cruise guests can look down and see the ocean 16 decks below. Another is   a dancing-waters fountain with 100 fountain jets, and serves as the centerpiece of the pool deck. During the daytime it will be a lounge-chair area, while at night it will be illuminated. Sensors will actually determine how high the water jets shoot by monitoring the conditions and wind speed, so excess spray doesn’t carry on outside the fountain area.

Enhancing some Princess traditions

“Movies Under the Stars” has become a Princess tradition since debuting on the Caribbean Princess in 2004. This outdoor theater allowed guests to enjoy blockbuster Hollywood movies on a 300 square foot outdoor video screen, another cruise industry first. Since then, Princess has added it to their other ships. The Royal Princess will continue with “Movies Under the Stars” but the outdoor video screen (35 feet by 21 feet) will be 30% larger than screens on the other Princess ships.

Another is the expansion of the Horizon Court, the buffet dining room just adjacent to the pool deck. Substantially larger, it will seat 1,500 guests with a new layout , complete with not just more seating but table choices –  counter-height  bistro style dining tables as well as tables for two.  Princess Cruises decided to eliminate the beverage stations in the Horizon court, and instead will hire additional wait staff to serve drinks.   And next to the Horizon Court will be the Horizon Bistro Pastry Shop, a dedicated pastry shop. This cruise industry first will let guests indulge in fresh baked goods throughout the day and evening, specially prepared and varying according to the time of day. Guests will also be able to see Princess pastry chefs “in action” as they demonstrate their skills in cake decorating, chocolate work, and more.

Princess Live! A New Entertainment Option

Entertainment is an area Princess Cruises is well known for, and the Royal Princess will include another option besides the main theater (seating 1000 guests) and a second lounge area with stage (seating 320 guests.) Called Princess Live, this area is set up like a TV production studio, and will offer live entertainment between 8 pm and midnight. It can accommodate 200 guests, and because the entertainment requires little or no setup, there will be no more that 15 minutes wait time between the shows. The acts might vary from a solo entertainer, quiz show, a guest lecturer, or possibly an interview with the Captain.

More about dining areas

 Several of the dining areas will now be adjacent to the complementary bar areas. For instance, the Crown Grill (a seafood and chop house restaurant) will be located next to the Wheelhouse Bar. And Sabatini’s, the Italian specialty restaurant, will be next to Vines, a wine bar that includes “the largest selection of super-Tuscan wines at sea.”  And the Piazza, the midship area where passengers board the Royal Princess, will be three stories with shopping, entertainment and eating options. The Chef’s Table, another Princess Cruises’ first, will be taken to a new level, debuting as the Chef’s Table Lumiere. It will have more of a privacy feel to it with a special curtain of light that envelopes the actual custom made glass table. The Chef’s Table Lumiere will continue to have a surcharge (currently $90 per guest, and includes wine and other special features. But onboard the Royal Princess, it will be available each evening.

Yes, Princess Cruises continues to “raise the bar” again with more firsts as well as enhancements to ones that have been a part of their shipboard traditions. Another plus?  It goes back to Princess Cruises’ dedication to creating small intimate areas onboard their ships, a nice feature for groups. And with 80% of the staterooms onboard the Royal Princess featuring a balcony, it provides another nice value.

If it’s been a while since your group has sailed on Princess Cruises,  this new generation ship might be worth looking into.