As the current summer Olympics progress, London and the British royal family are in the limelight, sustaining an abundance of Anglophile excitement. But even after this year’s Olympic torch has been extinguished, another ‘royal’ will soon take to the stage. In June 2013, Princess Cruises will launch the all new Royal Princess.
The Royal Princess is a ship name with a storied history. The original Royal was christened by Princess Diana and launched out to sea on November 15, 1984 with all exterior cabins, including an unheard of amount of verandah rooms for her time – 150 in total. She was cleverly outfitted with the majority of staterooms placed on higher decks to isolate them from the noises of the engines and activities below, and her graceful lines were designed by famed naval architect, Robert Tillberg.
The trendsetting ship would remain with Princess Cruises until 2005 when P&O renamed her Artemis, and then she once again changed hands in 2011 to become Artania for the German-based cruise ship operator, Phoenix Reisen.
The Royal Princess holds a special place in my heart as she was the very first cruise ship I ever sailed on, back before I was even two years old, and I have been pleased to cross paths with her over the years since. I saw her as Artemis docked at Kusadasi, Turkey in 2009 and most recently in 2011 in New York as Artania.
Princess quietly reintroduced the Royal Princess name with a cookie-cutter vessel – one of eight former R-class ships under Renaissance Cruises – which sailed from 2007 to 2011 before P&O took control and renamed her Adonia.
A New Generation
The Royal Princess will reemerge with fanfare in 2013 as an entirely new ship – the first newbuild for Princess since the Ruby Princess was launched in 2008. Currently, the ship is well under construction at the Italian shipyard, Fincantieri, as seen in recent photos released on Princess Cruises’ Facebook page.
When this new generation of ships is launched, she will be the largest vessel in Princess Cruises’ fleet with a capacity of 3,600 passengers and rated at 141,000 gross tons, and following her earliest pedigree, she will introduce several fresh features.
Similar in concept to the suspended catwalk that accesses Skywalkers Nightclub on some of Princess’ other ships, SeaWalk will be an exciting architectural pathway off the pool deck that – unlike Skywalkers – will stretch out 28 feet over the side of the ship with a glass floor. Taking the concept even further, the opposite side of the ship will feature a bar with a glass floor to view the ocean 128 feet below.
In addition to the staple of entertainment at the Princess Theater and side lounges, the ship will offer the first for a cruise ship – Princess Live! – a broadcast television studio at sea that will stage culinary demonstrations, music concerts, and comedy and game shows. This reminds somewhat of the green-screen photo studio once featured on the Grand Princess years ago where your photo was digitally superimposed on a number of available backdrops, but here the idea has expanded to video and most likely a broader appeal.
For serious foodies, the Royal Princess will offer Princess’ Chef’s Table experience where a smaller group of passengers get a special galley tour with the executive chef to oversee the active preparation of the evening’s meals before sitting down at their table to enjoy an exclusive tasting menu paired with wine selections. The Royal kicks the experience up a notch with Chef’s Table Lumiere – a private glass table enshrouded by a curtain of white light.
Other new dining venues onboard will include the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar for sushi, sashimi, ceviche and caviar; Gelato for the titular treat; and the distinct Pastry Shop at Horizon Court with special breads as well as its own seating and coffee bar. And the expanded piazza atrium with its impressive twin helix staircases will act as the central gathering place where many of these new dining venues will be situated.
But for now, all of this is still being built. In the meantime, there is a great selection of videos on Princess Cruises’ website further detailing the ship. All the teasers make good on reality in June of 2013 when the Royal Princess will be christened – hopefully by Kate Middleton, as would be fitting given the historical connection to Princess Diana – before setting sail for her inaugural season.
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: PRINCESS CRUISES