Style: 5 star attributes, 4 star price tag
Scene: spends most of her time cruising Australian and South Pacific regions.
Seen on Deck: Mix and match
We boarded Sea Princess in Sydney bound for a 5-day cruise to Tasmania. Wild highlights of our voyage included magnificent Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park; hauntingly-beautiful historic Port Arthur - after paying our respects to some very wild Tasmanian Devils at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park at feeding time, and lastly a visit to one of the wildest, most challenging museums in the world Hobart's MONA - Museum of Old and New Art.
Sea Princess is a big girl and well-endowed with it. She has a 4 star rating but has many 5 star attributes. She is an excellent choice for first time cruisers as well as those who know how to seek out the very best of everything on board and make the most of it. And there are plenty of examples on the best list.
First, her itineraries. Like sisters Dawn Princess and Sun Princess, Sea Princess spends most of her time cruising Australian and South Pacific regions. Meanwhile, big sister Diamond Princess will make two, 28-night circumnavigations of Australia in November 2014 and February 2015, and at 116,000 tonnes, will be the largest Princess Cruises' ship to sail around Australia.
As we said, Sea Princess caters to all comers: couples, small private parties of six to eight+, multi-generation families, small-medium groups and a smattering of solos. But no-one is solo for long as all guest activities go out of their way to include singles.
Because of her size (77,000 tonnes) and guest capacity of almost 2000, Sea Princess can and does, cater effectively to all tastes. So pick and choose we say. Follow our tips and you'll find plenty of luxuries to love on this girl.
If you have set the bar high, (as most The Luxury Travel Bible readers do) you will probably choose one of the six suites with private balconies, hot tub, fully-stocked wet bar, and even a fireplace. Certainly suite guests will most likely have a walk-in wardrobe, a pillow menu, 100% Egyptian cotton bed linens and specially-attentive little touches such as fresh flowers, canapés and sweet treats. But then again, you might just as easily settle contentedly in any one of the 411 balcony cabins, while others don't mind in the least if they are in an outside (603) or inside (372) stateroom. How much time do you spend in your cabin anyway they reason?
Many build a visit to The Sanctuary on Deck 15 into their daily routine as first port of call. Here you can escape to an emerald oasis in a sapphire sea - a green (astro turf) and serene outdoor spa setting, where you can lounge on de-luxe chaises (doubles for couples) amid lush foliage, soothed by sea sounds or even your own personal MP3 player with noise canceling headphones or themed playlist if you prefer. These and other enticements such as healthy beverages and light meals are delivered by The Sanctuary's Serenity Stewards who are on hand to provide everything from a chilled face towel to Evian water
atomizers. And The Luxury Travel Bible
just loves the outdoor private cabanas where passengers can take advantage of the exclusive Lotus Spa Services such as a Deep Tissue Muscle Massage, a relaxing Swedish Massage or a Full Body Lotus Massage especially for couples.
Most of the activity on Sea Princess centres around the handsome atrium with its twin glass elevators, shopping gallery, lounge bar and patisserie. Or, weather permitting, the spacious pool deck area where you can view Movies Under the Stars - literally a giant 28 square metre outdoor LED screen. Snuggle under a wrap on deck in a chaise with your popcorn and gaze at Hollywood's stars, the stars in the heavens, or the stars in your lover's eyes. And if you didn't want to do dress-up for dinner, what's wrong with a hamburger or a hotdog from the grill.
There are two dinner sittings in the ship's traditional dining room Rigoletto & Traviata where the excellence of the food and service impress. If you prefer to help yourself, then head for Horizon's. There is a 24-hour bistro which can get very crowded, a poolside grill, and an indoor pizzeria which make for popular alternatives. My only hesitation is the specialty Steakhouse. This attracts a premium but can't truthfully claim to be a dedicated restaurant, as it is simply a curtained-off area within the Horizon Court. But there is no arguing with the quality of the beef which is genuinely Sterling quality.
A popular event for food and wine fanciers is the Maitre d'Hotel's Wine Club. Sensational hors d'oeuvres such as Red Snapper Mojitos, Beef Tartare or grilled prawns wrapped in prosciutto, and mini cheese platters are prepared under the direction of Executive Chef Antonio Cortese in the galley's Garde Manger. They are then presented in the dining room with much panache by Maitre D'Hotel Neville Saldana with perfectly paired wines. The event is well worth the AUD$34.00 per person.
There are two Show Lounges, four pools, sports court, ocean-view gym, internet café and library, casino and seven lounges/bars including my favourite the atmospheric WheelHouse Bar.
And what's not to love about Tassie's ports? Iconic Cradle Mountain rising above fields of golden button grass at the foot of Dove Lake which alternates between playful and sombre depending on the weather; exploring the eloquent historic buildings and glorious gardens of Port Arthur; and meandering the waterfront of the best little capital in Australia - Hobart.
|Ultimate Luxury: An intimate dinner for two served on the balcony of The Owners Suite.
|Most Indulgent Moment: A restorative massage on deck in a private cabana in The Sanctuary
|Insider Secrets: The ship has more to offer luxury lovers than the price tag implies.
|Junior Luxies: Pajama parties, special screenings of Movies Under The Stars. Teens can romp and stomp in Shockwaves - a dedicated venue free from parental gaze - where they can enjoy sports tournaments, scavenger hunts, watch movies, learn to cook with the Jr, [email protected] program and strut their stuff on the stage in talent shows.
|Dress code: More casual than aboard all-inclusive luxury ships. On formal nights, lounge suit is acceptable. Jackets required for dinner, but ties are optional.
|Luxury Cruise Link: www.princess.com
Princess Cruises will offer seven round trip cruises to Tasmania, sailing from Melbourne and Sydney in 2014 and early 2015.
Sister ships to Sea Princess, the 77,000 tonne superliners Dawn Princess and Sun Princess each carry 1990 passengers and offer close to 1000 staterooms, with almost half featuring private balconies. The many onboard features include a four-storey atrium, an array of restaurants, cafes, lounges and bars, as well as a 550-seat theatre, a spa and fitness centre, the Sanctuary retreat, a giant Movies Under the Stars poolside screen and four pools.
Maggy Oehlbeck 7/1/14