By Mike Coleman
With recent media attention focusing on Royal Caribbean’s pending launch of the largest passenger liner in the world next year, somewhat lost in the shuffle is a new Princess ship being readied for the high seas.
Reprising the name of a former Princess ship, the line will name the next new vessel to join its fleet Crown Princess. She will feature a number of innovations designed for cruising in the Caribbean waters, but the ship will also offer new design evolutions to create additional options for passengers, including a piazza-style atrium, even more dining venues and redesigned public spaces.
The 113,000-ton Crown Princess is scheduled to debut next May and will sail round-trip from New York on a series of nine-day Caribbean and Bermuda voyages. In the fall, the ship begins a series of Southern Caribbean voyages from San Juan.
And while the Royal Caribbean ship Freedom of the Seas seems to be garnering most of the latest headlines – it too debuts in May – look for Crown Princess to steal some of the spotlight if not for her sheer size than for the mouth-watering culinary delights she will soon offer.
The ship will feature a piazza-style atrium, designed to be the bustling hub of the ship with a street cafe atmosphere.
The atrium, on Deck 5, will feature the International Cafe, where passengers will enjoy rotating themes throughout the day and Vines, a wine and seafood bar. Passengers in the cafe might find freshly baked croissants or beignets in the morning, crÃƒÂªpes or bonbons in the afternoon, and chocolate fondue or desserts in the evening. It will also be the locale for pre-dinner tapas or after-dinner petits fours.
Vines, on the other hand, will tempt passengers in the evening with an assortment of fine wines by the glass as well as chilled “seafood cocktails” appetizers including salmon, caviar, sushi, gravlax or other treats from the sea. The venue will also host an extensive menu of wines and food tastings paired for a completely different experience.
Table service from both the International Cafe and Vines will also be available in the Internet Cafe, for those passengers who like to snack and surf the Net at the same time.
Meanwhile, the line’s popular Sterling Steakhouse has evolved into the Crown Grill, a steak and seafood house with a theater-style performance kitchen. Located on Deck 7, the ship’s showplace eatery will entertain passengers with an open, theater-style kitchen where chefs custom-prepare steamed shellfish lobster, scallops, clams and mussels and cooked-to-order steaks and chops. The 160-seat restaurant will feature rich decor, leather appointments, wine display cabinets and the privacy of booths as well as tables and counter seating.
The lines’ Sabatini’s Italian trattoria will be situated on Deck 16, higher here than on other ships, to offer fine dining with a view. The venue offers views on three sides with dramatic vistas overlooking the wake of the ship. The adjacent Adagio Lounge offers a cozy venue for Sabatini diners to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail and relaxing piano music, complete with ocean views.
The ship will offer numerous dining options that passengers have come to enjoy on other Princess vessels. The 24-hour Horizon Court will serve round-the-clock buffet fare, while the adjacent Cafe Caribe will offer unique Caribbean specialties in a deluxe buffet setting, with a focus on a different island or region each night plus seafood extravaganzas on formal evenings.
Passengers can enjoy poolside treats with a hamburger and hot dog grill, pizzeria and ice cream shop. Crown Princess will also serve Princess’ trademark traditional afternoon tea.
Crown Princess will also offer multiple show lounges and a variety of intimately designed public spaces.
Other ship features include a wedding chapel with Internet wedding cam, and an extensive children and teen’s center with splash pool and outdoor play area, sports and fitness facilities, a wide array of educational classes and nearly 900 staterooms with private balconies.
The ship takes on the name of a vessel that left the fleet in 2002. The original Crown Princess, which debuted in 1990, was the first ship built for Princess by the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. The same yard is working on the new vessel, scheduled to debut in eight months.