Enjoy a relaxing vacation under the stars aboard the Sky Princess cruise ship
MOONLIGHT, a bubbling hot tub, cold beer and a Hollywood blockbuster shown on a giant TV screen above.
Life is no more relaxing than that. Or maybe it does. . .
Because it’s Movies Under The Stars on the Sky Princess cruise ship’s pool deck as enjoyed on a blustery autumn evening on the Irish Sea.
One can only imagine how cool it would be to sail off the coast of Spain or around the Canary Islands.
And that’s something Sky Princess passengers can look forward to in the coming months as the cruise industry returns to normal after the peak of the pandemic.
The 3,660-passenger Royal Class ship is the newest in the 14-person Princess fleet. It made its maiden voyage in October 2019, but the arrival of Covid-19 meant that after a temporary halt to all cruises, Sky Princess was then limited to cruises around the UK.
But with the easing of restrictions, the 1,083-foot-long ship has an attractive expanded route for 2022.
And the good news for UK cruise passengers, especially those who prefer to avoid the plane, is that Sky Princess will be the company’s “home ship” next year with a variety of cruises departing from Southampton between March and October.
Round-trip destinations will include Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Iceland, Spain, France, Portugal, the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean, Canada and New England.
On her last cruise from Southampton in 2022, the ship will sail to its winter home port of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The 19 decks of the Sky Princess are home to an impressive range of facilities. To describe it as a “floating hotel” does not do it justice. It’s more of a chic vacation spot.
The large main pool deck has two pools with plenty of seating. The centerpiece is the 3000 square foot television screen which offers stunning picture quality and excellent sound.
In addition to movies, selected sporting events also get treatment on the big screen on occasion.
Passengers cheered British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu to victory in the US Open final on an expedition in September.
If you’d rather skip the entertainment on the deck, there’s a separate adult-only retreat pool, while the Wake View infinity pool at the back offers mesmerizing views as well as its own bar.
If you really want to get away from it all, you can book a lounge chair or cabin for an additional fee in the exclusive Sanctuary hideaway on the upper deck.
Opt for an after-lunch time slot and you’ll be treated to afternoon tea including cakes, scones, and sandwiches.
Spa facilities are also available at an additional cost, including the Enclave, a thermal suite featuring a hydrotherapy pool with a cascading rainshower.
There are several dining options included in the cruise fare – too many to list, in fact – and the food quality is excellent, from the poolside pizza and hamburger bars to the World Fresh Marketplace buffet and to the three main restaurants.
For an additional fee, passengers can also enjoy a meal at several upscale restaurants featuring elaborate menus as part of Princess Cruises’ Chef Partner Program.
For example, Sur La Mer is a French bistro with a menu designed by the three-star chef Emmanuel Renaut.
For a truly indulgent treat, Ultimate Balcony Dining offers passengers the option of having breakfast or dinner with personalized service on their balcony, an original and charming experience well worth the price, per couple, of around Â£ 33 for breakfast or Â£ 72 for dinner.
GO: Sky Princess Cruise
Sky Princess 2022 cruises from Southampton start from Â£ 489pp (or Â£ 699pp all-inclusive) for a seven-night cruise of Spain and France, calling at Bordeaux, Bilbao and La Coruna.
See princess.com or call 0344 338 8663.
Other ways to enjoy your time at sea include a large gym, casino, and various bars and lounges.
Evening entertainment includes live performances at the ship’s theater featuring West End performers, quizzes and comedies in the popular Princess Live Lounge.
A sea vacation might not be everyone’s cup of tea and only by trying it will you know if it’s right for you. There is certainly nothing stuffy about cruises these days.
The dress code is as casual or formal as you want it to be, as are the dining experiences.
Cruising is certainly a good way to tick off places on your to-do list in a relatively short period of time, although a downside for some might be the time limits spent at destinations on land.
This particular sea included two stops – at Greenock, near Glasgow and Belfast – and the two hours spent at Giant’s Causeway on the Northern Irish coast was not really long enough to fully explore any of the attractions. UK’s most spectacular natural surroundings.
A vacation at sea might not be everyone’s cup of tea and only by trying will you know if it’s right for you
Shore excursions are not included in the price of your cruise and, as already noted, some onboard experiences are chargeable as well.
If your budget is tight, a full and enjoyable break can certainly be enjoyed without paying for extras on board.
But it probably makes sense to upgrade to the Princess Plus package at Â£ 30 per day per person because, in addition to an allowance of Â£ 15 per day on the vast majority of alcohol by the glass – this will cover bottled water , all branded soft drinks and specialty coffees and teas.
And there is the added bonus of unlimited wifi usage.
At the heart of the Princess Cruises experience is the innovative MedallionClass, a new cutting edge technology now installed in the fleet.
Each passenger receives an OceanMedallion, a custom device the size of a 10 pence coin that interacts with thousands of sensors on the ship.
Some of the system’s many benefits include automatically unlocking your cabin door as you approach, making dinner reservations, and ordering drinks and food from virtually anywhere on the ship without leaving your seat.
To get the most out of the experience, you will need to use the MedallionClass app, which has a lot of information about the ship and the cruise.
Cruising is definitely a good way to tick off places on your bucket list in a relatively short period of time.
Overall, the system works wonderfully, with orders placed through the app being delivered within minutes by the friendly and efficient staff. The app, however, works better on some mobile devices than others, which can be frustrating.
Hopefully these minor issues will be resolved soon as the company assures us that it is aware of some issues with the app and is working to improve the experience for all users.
If you don’t get along with the app, it isn’t essential once on board. Passengers can use large touch screens located around the ship, and televisions in each room also give you access to MedallionClass features.
And, of course, you can still use the old-fashioned approach to ordering drinks or making reservations just by asking a crew member.