Sea Princess Entertainment
This largely consists of old-style variety acts given a modern twist and is imaginative and generally excellent.
On my cruise a very professional Liverpudlian comic, a splendid tenor, a stylish illusionist and an hilarious musical impersonator kept audiences very happy, so much so that it was usually standing-room-only at twice-nightly showtimes in the ship's 600-seat Princess Theatre. I'm not generally a great fan of cruise ship entertainment, particularly of the "medleys from Gigi in fishnet and feathers" variety, but the Sea Princess programme was well thought out and perfectly suited to the largely British clientele.
By day, films are shown on the Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) screen, which overlooks the pools on Deck 14; recently-released films are also shown in the afternoon in the Princess Theatre or the Vista Lounge, and the ship has an array of daily classes and lectures to keep passengers occupied. These range from free and fairly traditional activities like cookery demonstrations, napkin-folding and origami-making sessions and special interest talks to Computers@Sea (see Internet Cafe) and Ceramics@Sea classes, which passengers pay to join.
In Princess Potter ceramics classes, all materials and instructions are supplied and passengers pay according to what they make -- for example a dinner plate costs $30, a coaster set $20.
One thing this ship does excel at is getting people together; social events geared towards groups with shared interests are held regularly -- Medics at Sea, Veterans at Sea, 18 to 25s and Bragging Grannies get-togethers were just a few of those held during my cruise.
Sea Princess Public Rooms
Seaboard life revolves around the sweeping black and white marble staircases, glass lifts and gently curved contours of the ship's four-deck-high atrium, which lies midship and contains the Reception and Shore Excursion desks. Deck 6 holds a substantial parade of shops; one deck up is the bay-windowed Crooner's Bar -- complete with cosy sofas and white grand piano -- and on the top level (Deck 8) next to Cafe Corniche is the Monte Carlo Casino. Opposite the casino's roulette and black jack tables is an old-fashioned but curiously charming "007"-themed card playing and drinks area, complete with squishy black leather sofas, a James Bond silhouette mural and navy padded wall panels straight out of an "Austin Powers" movie.
One level down, Deck 7 is the main passenger deck, with the lovely peach, blue and gold Vista Lounge at the aft end and the one-tier Princess Theatre at the prow. The Wheelhouse Bar, just behind the theatre, is an intimate watering hole marred only be streams of passengers walking through en route to the theatre. Part English pub, part gentleman's club, it has stylish leather sofas, brass lamps and nautical paintings on wood–panelled walls. Just outside this bar, on the ship's port side, you'll find a lovely small seating area and a fascinating display of memorabilia purchased from Marlene Dietrich's estate.
Also on port side is the Razzmatazz Nightclub, with steel walls and bar and deep red "wave effect" sofas. Opposite this is the walnut-panelled, large-windowed Champagne Bar, where Mimosas, Bellinis and Champagne cocktails cost $5.75.
Next door is a substantial photo gallery and just off here, up a short wood-panelled corridor, find the ship's Internet Centre and Library. Quiet, large-windowed and equipped with flat screen computers on smart green leather-topped desks, the Internet Centre is stylish but expensive compared to shoreside facilities. Pay-as-you-go costs a hefty 75 cents a minute but there are cost -- saving packages for heavy users, ranging from $55 for 100 minutes to $75 for 150 and $100 for 250. Computer lessons are bookable for $25 per adult, $10 per child (though I suspect the average eight-year-old could teach the instructors a thing or six ... )
Next door, the pretty wood-panelled library doubles as a venue for onboard weddings, which can be conducted by the captain while the ship is actually at sea, thanks to its Bermudan registry. (A major clue as to when a wedding is on is that an archway of white flowers is placed at the library entrance.)
Sea Princess Spa & Fitness
The Lotus Spa is up on Deck 12 and offers the usual range of facials, massages and body treatments priced (at full whack) from $119 for a 50-minute La Therapie face treatment, $155 for a 50-minute Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow exfoliation followed by a Swedish massage.
Look out for special offers when the ship is in port.
For $100 (including 10 percent tip) I tried an early-morning treatment combining the ginger and lime exfoliation with a shoulder and back massage and a mini-facial, and found it an invigorating -- and not too guilt-inducing -- start to a day ashore.
Sea Princess' spa contains a well equipped, large windowed gym, a sizeable aerobics room (Yoga, Pilates and cycle classes cost $10 a head per session) and a small outdoor area containing a whirlpool and small circular pool.
In all, the ship has four pools -- three on Deck 12, one on Deck 15 -- six whirlpools and a ball games court (also up on 15 at the top of the ship).
Princess' signature, adult-only Sanctuary features lots of thickly cushioned loungers, massage cabanas, signature beverages, light meals and on-call stewards. Enjoying the are comes at a price: It's $10 for a half a day and $20 for a full day, plus there's a $3 service fee for dining orders.