First to get their own sanctuaries will be Island Princess, Grand Princess and Star Princess. The concept is already incorporated into the design of Ruby Princess, which debuts this fall. The remaining vessels, which include Tahitian Princess (to be renamed Ocean Princess in November 2009), Royal Princess and Pacific Princess, Princess' trio of mid-sized ships, will be outfitted with sanctuaries no later than 2010.
The Sanctuary was first unveiled on Crown Princess and has since been included on sister ship Emerald Princess, the line's newest. And it's been very well received. In Cruise Critic's own review of Crown Princess, it's noted that "the Sanctuary is a lovely space, featuring a tent canopy over most of it (there are a handful of loungers in sunny places), an astro-turf carpet, and fabulous Italianate chaises and chairs (with decadently thick cushions), covered with the plushest, thirstiest towels. An interesting aspect of the Sanctuary is its service element -- waiters are on hand and a spa menu is available (with a mix of healthy fare, such as tuna pate, and most decidedly unhealthy, a cheeseburger), and you can order drinks (again, everything from fruit drinks and smoothies to a bottle of beer)."
There's a $10 per person fee to enter and passengers can choose from two daily "seatings": 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. or 1 - 5 p.m. Is the Sanctuary worth the extra cost? "For anyone who wants a respite from all the 'energy,'" writes our reviewer, "absolutely. And while there's no pool here, the fact that the Lotus Pool is downstairs is just fine."
The concept has spawned imitators -- Carnival, for one, has adopted some of its features in creating an adult-only area on some of its vessels.
Aside from the aforementioned features, Princess' Sanctuary concept also incorporates two massage cabanas (though in our experience the private spaces, enclosed by canvas walls, tend to get a bit too warm).
And not only are these onboard havens free from raucous rug rats, the Sanctuary's stewards provide spa-goers with noise-canceling headphones attached to MP3 players (rental costs $10). Passengers who've booked a family cruise can teleport back to their pre-parent lives (if only for a few hours) and drown out any possible noise emissions from spouses or children who may be loitering near the outdoor spa.
While it's easy to figure out where the Sanctuary will go on Princess' big ships (forward, in place of a sports and recreation area, that houses ping pong and basketball), the line has not yet determined where the Sanctuary will be placed on its smaller, mid-sized trio of Ocean Princess, Royal Princess and Pacific Princess.
--by Caroline Costello, Editorial Assistant