By Maria Harding, Cruise Critic contributor
After a brief excursion into the fleet of sister brand P&O Cruises (where it was known as the Adonia) Sea Princess has now reverted to its original name, rejoined her original brand and is spearheading Princess Cruises' drive to carve itself a slice of the ever-growing local market for cruises from U.K. ports. Sea Princess is proving a big hit with Brits, who now make up 90 percent of passengers on summer sailings around the Western Mediterranean. And having just spent a week onboard, I can easily see why.
Traditional afternoon teas, fine steak-and-chips dinners (both in the pay-per-use Steak House and in the no-extra-fee main restaurants), BBC costume dramas on the TV and an excellent U.K.-focused entertainment programme make Sea Princess feel like a home from home for British travellers. That's a real achievement for a cruise line which has traditionally catered mainly to Americans.
Sea Princess' appeal extends far beyond Anglophiles. The ship, launched in 1998, is not old but its mid-size style and more traditional features make it a good choice for cruise travellers who like to feel they're onboard an ocean-going vessel rather than a theme park at sea.
True, Sea Princess needs a bit of cosmetic work in parts, but it's due to get it as part of Princess Cruises' ongoing plan to upgrade its older, 2,940-passenger Grand-class ships Grand, Golden and Star Princess, alongside Sea Princess and her 2,272-passenger Sun-class sister ships Dawn, Sun and Sea Princess.
But even without a lick of paint being applied, it's a cosy, welcoming, lovely ship whose atrium area and Vista Lounge are among the most attractive at sea. I suspect Sea Princess's fans will sorely miss the ship in summer 2009, when the larger Grand Princess takes over April-to-September round-trip runs from Southampton there to the Western Mediterraean.
But those who like the Sea Princess style can join her on a summer 2009 cruise around Alaska instead.
Sea Princess Fellow Passengers
On summer 2008 runs out of Southampton around 90 percent of passengers were British and 10 percent American or other nationalities (though clearly this ratio will change when the ship moves to Alaska in summer 2009).
On my end-of-May cruise there were plenty of young families onboard, and you can expect this to be the case throughout the summer, particularly during school holiday times.
But the rapidly-growing trend towards multi-generational cruising means passengers in the more traditional cruising age range -- 55 plus to 70 plus are also well represented.
Sea Princess Dress Code
This is a fairly dressy ship; of the seven nights I spent on board, two were formal evenings. That said, even on formal nights, smart suits with ties are as acceptable as dinner jackets, and passengers who dislike dressing up can dine casually at the Cafe Corniche or the Horizon Court.
Even there, though (and quite rightly) a reasonable degree of smartness is expected; slacks and polo shirts are fine, but vests, shorts and flip flops should be confined to daytimes out on deck.
Sea Princess Gratuity
Gratuities, which are automatically charged to onboard accounts, are $11.50 per person (including children), per day, for passengers staying in standard accommodations and $12 for passengers staying in mini-suite and suites. A 15 percent gratuity is added to beverage purchases onboard, including wine at dinner. Spa and casino staff members do not share in the gratuity charges -- if you use these services, tips are advised.
This was my second cruise and I enjoyed it. Alan and Alana at Crooners Corner, this was our fav place to go to at 8.30pm each night we were on the cruise.
The buffet is really good and also our restaurant was great. As we mostly ate at the ...continue
We cruised to New Zealand in February 2013 aboard the SEA PRINCESS for 13 Nights.Before going on this cruise I searched all cruise reviews to see if they offered any information for 1st time cruisers but could find little to help me.
Here is an ...continue
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Embarkation was well organised. The check in process and ticketing system to get on board the ship worked very well. We discovered later in the cruise that there were 2150 passengers on board, which is interesting noting that the publish capacity ...continue