Updated September 21, 2017
The Sanctuary on Princess Cruises sets the bar high for adults-only sun decks at sea. Lounge chairs aren't just padded, they're dressed in upscale cushions with fluffy towels; water is infused with fresh fruit and cabanas make room for alfresco massages. It's easy to leave feeling like you've just spent a day at the spa.
What It Is
Like other adults-only sun decks at sea, The Sanctuary on Princess Cruises is an exclusive space that does not allow children under age 18. It's nestled on one of the ship's upper decks (forward or aft, depending on the ship), away from the main pools and directly above the Lotus Spa. The location is key: Passengers in The Sanctuary benefit from the spa's subdued atmosphere and easy access to its facilities, pool and hot tubs. (On Royal-class ships, the Sanctuary is adjacent to the adults-only Retreat, which features a small pool and two hot tubs.) Additionally, being at either end of the ship means sweeping ocean views all around.
The area itself is both functional and appealing. A portion of it is shadowed by an airy canopy, while others are fully exposed to the sun. Padded lounge chairs come with towels and little cocktail tables, and are positioned in a way that allows for easy mobility; there's ample walking space in between the seating arrangements, and you don't feel like you're trapped once you settle into a comfy spot. A number of chairs also line the glass-wall perimeter, so sun-bathers can look out to sea. Cabanas vary by ship, but on newer builds, you'll notice more options, including beach house-style bungalows with couches, TVs and homey decor.
Service at The Sanctuary is attentive. "Serenity Stewards" walk around refilling glasses of water infused with everything from cucumber to grapefruit, offering tiny desserts on trays and taking food orders -- but they are also respectful of your space. The food menu (complimentary, though there is a $3 delivery fee) offers a variety of light snacks and comfort foods, ranging from cantaloupe with cottage cheese and lettuce-wrapped spring rolls to burgers and hot dogs. Smoothies are available for a small fee, as are personal Evian misters. Alcoholic beverages also may be ordered, but they'll cost you.
For a more spa-like experience, select ships allow passengers to book massages in the cabanas. The alfresco massages, which can be booked through the Lotus Spa, include complimentary use of The Sanctuary for one hour after the treatment. (You don't need to purchase a pass to The Sanctuary in order to get a massage, unless you wish to stay for more than the included hour.)
Half-day passes -- which either can be used from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 1 to 5 p.m. -- are available for $20 per person. Full-day passes cost $40 per person. During special cruise experiences -- such as scenic cruising through Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm, College Fjord, Panama Canal or Suez Canal -- Princess offers a "Scenic Sanctuary Package" with a higher price tag -- roughly $60 to $75 per person -- depending on the itinerary. The package gives passengers exclusive access to The Sanctuary while scenic cruising; it's the only way to access the space on these days.
The Sanctuary can be found on all Princess ships.