Rai Caluori, Princess Cruises' executive vice-president of fleet operations, stopped by Cruise Critic's message boards to take questions from the line's fans, who seemed eager to find out all they could about the line's newest ship, Royal Princess.
He was equally exuberant, writing, "I can't tell you how thrilled I am for the launch of Royal Princess! I hope you'll experience this beautiful new ship, with new features including the dramatic central Piazza, SeaWalk and many dining options!"
Questions for Caluouri ranged from broad to surprisingly specific. His responses:
On special events during the inaugural:
Rai Calouri: We'll have a full line-up of celebratory entertainment marking the launch of Royal Princess. You'll have a hard time deciding what to do next! Enjoy!
On television, Movies Under the Stars and in-cabin entertainment:
RC: There will be hundreds of movies and television shows to choose from -- everything (from) hit movies to popular series, such as "Homeland," to popular shows from the Food Network and HGTV. You won't be able to hook up a gaming system or video camera to the televisions.
Royal Princess will offer E! Entertainment Television, ESPN, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC World News and CNBC. For those who just want to catch quick headlines, an Associated Press news ticker will also be scrolling on their TV homepage, with the latest U.S and international news, sports and weather.
The stateroom televisions don't allow the hook up of personal DVD players.
Movies Under the Stars aboard Royal Princess will be in high definition, as well as the stateroom televisions.
On fitness options:
RC: The Fitness Center on Royal Princess will feature a number of our most popular fitness classes including Body Sculpt Boot Camp, Pilates, Yoga, Spinning, TRX as well as private training with our certified Fitness Instructors. The TRX straps will be limited to classes due to liability concerns with using the equipment. In addition to TRX classes in the aerobics studio, we will also be featuring “al fresco” classes at the forward end of the sports court! The aerobics studio will be available for personal use (stretching, exercises, etc.) as long as a scheduled class is not taking place. We have integrated several wind screens on the upper decks to ensure a safe and memorable experience in the ocean breeze!
On the Thermal Suite:
RC: The Thermal Suite aboard Royal Princes is a new area call The Enclave. It features our first ever Hydro-Therapy pool with cascading shower, plus our first-ever Turkish Hammam, as well as a sensory shower experience, heated stone beds, laconium, caldarium and soothing water beds. Reservations can be made by visiting the Lotus Spa once onboard. We will be offering a day pass to the Enclave ($39) as well as voyage pass for individuals and couples (rate varies based on voyage length).
On dancing options:
RC: On Royal Princess, we will continue our tradition of featuring live bands playing music for dancing in two unique venues each evening. In the Visa Lounge, our Party Band will fill the dance floor playing hits from the 60s, 70, 80s and beyond each evening. For our passengers with a bias for ballroom, the Piazza will be alive with this style of live music and dancing each evening. This is something we are featuring on select vessels in preparation for the Royal Princess launch and we are confident that our passengers will appreciate the opportunity to dance each evening in the grandest ballroom at sea, the Royal Princess Piazza!
On the Wine-Makers' Dinner option:
RC: The wine-maker's dinner is an event that takes place at least 1 time an evening in the two wine rooms in the Symphony and Concerto dining rooms. These areas seat a maximum of 12 passengers and can be configured to accommodate smaller groups. The event is endorsed by wine-makers and includes:
4 course meal (tailored to the winery endorsing the event)
Welcome cocktail (3 cocktail rotation to choose from)
Glass of white wine (from sponsoring wine-maker)
Glass of red wine (from sponsoring wine-maker)
Cover charge $40
I hope you'll try it!
On the Crab Shack:
RC: Crab Shack complete with mallets, bib & buckets and a predominant seafood menu including appetizers, soups and entrée's such as crawfish boil, peel & eat shrimp, clam and mussel pot, crab cluster and more. There is a $20 cover charge.
On the Chef's Table:
RC: We're excited to feature Chef's Table nightly aboard Royal Princess. You can make reservations upon boarding and the price will be ($115) person. It shouldn't be missed so I hope you treat yourself to this incredible dining experience!
On Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar:
RC: Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar will offer complimentary edamame, wakame, egg salad and herring salad. Caviar, oysters, raw bar, tapas, smoked and cured salmon and other various seafood items will carry a charge. It will also offer chilled vodka, sake and wines.
On accessible seating in the theater:
RC: The Princess Theater aboard Royal Princess offers 10 ADA seats on the deck 6 level and 8 seats on the deck 7 level.
On the layout of the bow suites:
RC: The interior space of an S5 suite is 471 square feet and the balcony offers 83 square feet. Enjoy!
On accessible cabins:
RC: There are 36 wheelchair accessible staterooms on Royal Princess - 29 balcony and 7 inside.
On cabin amenities:
RC: The shampoo and soaps will be the same as what is currently offered on the Princess fleet. (Editor's note: Princess uses Lotus Spa branded eucalyptus-scented products).
On the Concierge Lounge:
RC: For the first time on a Princess ship, suite passengers can access an exclusive area to relax or work, with access to full front desk services, plus light snacks and beverages. Here, these passengers will have dedicated staff to assist with such things as shore excursions, specialty dining or Lotus Spa reservations. It will also be used as a private disembarkation lounge for suite passengers.
On the self-service laundry facility:
RC: The self-service laundry aboard Royal Princess will be cashless. You can simply swipe your cruise card to receive tokens for the washer, dryer and detergent. Happy washing ... but don't spend too much time doing laundry, you'll want to be out and about enjoying the beautiful ship!
On onboard technology:
RC: Princess@Sea, a brand-new mobile-friendly intranet site, enables passengers to easily access daily updates about entertainment, onboard specials, weather and port news, as well as review their onboard folio from their personal mobile or tablet devices.
With regards to Wi-Fi, the network is currently being built for all public areas and staterooms to offer connection points for passengers who want to stay connected while on their cruise.
On why Royal Princess doesn't have a full outdoor promenade:
RC: When designing Royal Princess we wanted to maximize the number of outside cabins, which all have private balconies, with unobstructed views. This was possible by relocating the lifeboats and tenders to deck 7, hence we had to sacrifice the full promenade. We acknowledge this will be a disappointment to some of our loyal passengers but felt the opportunity to optimize the balcony experience could not be missed. Plus we have a fantastic walking & jogging track at the top of the ship with fantastic vistas.
On privacy for balconies below the Skywalk:
RC: Yes, some balconies are visible from the SeaWalk, in the same way that balconies are visible on other Princess ships from many of the balconies above. We note very little comment from passengers on ships with overlooked balconies, and would anticipate the same on Royal Princess.
On aft balconies:
RC: All aft suite balconies have a slight overhang, which gradually increases towards the lower decks.
On balcony furniture:
RC: All balconies on Royal Princess will have chairs with reclining backs. Where standard balcony size permits, ottomans have been added to increase passenger comfort.
On beds, linens and furniture:
RC: Royal Princess will debut with luxury, new specification linens and towels plus all beds will be fitted with a two-inch memory foam pillow top for an enhanced sleep experience.
On damage to compressors that required a return trip to dry dock:
RC: It is likely that the damage was caused by mal-operation of the compressors lube oil pumps. Similar to a car that needs oil to run the engine, the compressors, which run at very high speed, were damaged when deprived of lube oil.
--by Colleen McDaniel
Editor's note: Similar responses have been grouped together for clarity.