Leaves — which was carved out of the space pictured above on Grand Princess where a duty-free shop used to be — occupies a nice piece of real estate for people watching, seated as it is just across from the Crown Grill (the ship’s steakhouse and seafood joint). On the face of it, the venue — a tea-related spin-off of the coffee bar concept — is a brilliant idea. A combination library/card playing venue (books and games for borrowing are tucked behind glass-fronted shelves) and tea room, it’s meant to appeal to those who love to drink tea, and those who like to read books and play games.
Let’s talk about the tea first: There are 70 varieties available, all of which can be enjoyed in the glass-enclosed tea cubbies lining the walls. You can try them one at a time (a pot, which serves two cups, is a lofty $2.75); these include ol’ reliables like Earl Grey and English Breakfast, and unusual options (at least to this tea-totaler) like chocolate orange truffle or Moroccan mint melange. A small selection of tea-type snacks, from cakes to crust-free sandwiches, are available during the afternoon hours. You don’t have to buy tea to nibble.
You could definitely say that one of the nicest benefits of Leaves is its peaceful ambiance. This is not, however, a result of the tea. Instead, it seems as if passengers, even on this largely British cruise, have not really cottoned to the place. The good news? There’s always a seat in which to read a book. The bad? If the profit-making beverages have few buyers, the space’s lifespan may not be long.
On a recent late-afternoon visit, I picked out a book at the library and settled down for a good read. And a cuppa. But ultimately the cup that appealed was a “tropical tea mojito,” which happened to include the quite nontraditional ingredient of rum. After placing the order, the sweet waiter rushed off with the menu tucked under his arm, only to return a few minutes later — he grabbed some tropical green tea and headed nearby to Crooners for the Bacardi rum, splash of soda and lime. With a nervous flourish, he presented me with the drink (which though quite delicious would probably not earn Leaves a repeat visit) and hovered while I tasted it. “You’ve never sold one of these before,” I guessed. “No, we haven’t,” he replied, beaming. “You’re the first one.”
Curious about the remodeled Grand Princess? We’re posting in-depth reports live from the ship on Cruise Critic U.K.’s blog.
For a full run-down of major cruise ship refurbishments, check out our multi-million dollar makeover chart.
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