| Royal Princess, the 30,000-ton, 710-passenger sister ship to Pacific Princess and Tahitian Princess, has set sail on its maiden voyage. The ship previously sailed as Minerva II for cousin cruise line Swan Hellenic. Royal Princess is under the command of the line's senior master, the recently appointed Commodore Michael Fatchen.|
Formerly R8 in the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises family, Royal Princess is a boutique version of Princess' larger vessels -- with onboard options including a variety of dining and entertainment choices and a large number of cabins with private balconies. New to Princess on this ship is the brand-new "Chef's Table" dinner experience (more details to follow in May); it will ultimately be available on all vessels in the fleet. As well, Royal Princess features the line's signature facilities and restaurants, ranging from Sterling Steakhouse and Sabitini's trattoria to the Lotus Spa and the Grand Casino.
Prior to launch, Royal Princess received a makeover that included new carpet and upholstery, and the line's new premium mattresses and bedding.
The ship, which will in essence act as Princess' pathfinder in Europe, will offer itineraries that call at smaller, more offbeat ports. Upcoming voyages boast more unusual destinations, including four ports appearing for the first time on Princess routes: Ravenna, Italy; Split Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; and Canakkale (for Troy), Turkey.
This summer, Royal Princess will also cruise to places such as the Crimean coast, Egypt and the Holy Land.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor