Club Class was introduced on Emerald Princess when it debuted in December 2016. Since then, Princess Cruises has added the VIP cabin category – which includes benefits such as premium location mini-suites and an exclusive dining area – to its entire fleet. Club Class is available to full suite passengers plus those who book an elevated Club Class mini-suite category cabin. It cannot be purchased as an add-on.
Club Class fares can vary, but in general, these special mini-suite staterooms cost an extra A$50 to A$120 per day compared to a regular balcony. Booking a mini-suite does not automatically entitle you to the benefits below. Only some mini-suites are designated Club Class but, given the number of benefits, you would be crazy not to opt for one. The extra cost compared to a standard mini-suite can amount to as little as A$40 for an entire cruise, although this can change depending on the sailing.
So why should you upgrade to Club Class? Overall, you'll find an experience that's more upscale and personal, particularly when it comes to dining. In addition to the Club Class benefits listed below, not having to wait for things makes your cruise holiday more relaxing and enjoyable, plus you can't help but feel just a little bit special as you breeze past the main dining room queue. Club Class is the perfect choice for luxury lovers who want to feel pampered at a reasonable price. Foodies who enjoy Princess Cruises'cuisine but prefer an intimate dining experience will also appreciate this enhanced offering.
Read on for a list of perks and our take on why you should be sailing Club Class on your next cruise.
1. Premium location mini-suites
If you prefer a mini-suite that is mid-ship or in a highly coveted aft location, Club Class is for you. While you are welcome to choose your Club Class mini-suite location, any one is sure to be good. Club Class mini-suites also include the standard mini-suite benefits, such as a larger stateroom of up to 30 square metres with a balcony, separate seating area with sofa bed and coffee table, bathroom with combination tub and shower and a welcome glass of Champagne.
2. Priority embarkation and disembarkation
Your Club Class experience begins at the port as Club Class passengers board at their leisure. Disregard the suggested time on your boarding pass and arrive whenever you like. On disembarkation day, you can relax in an exclusive disembarkation lounge serving refreshments such as pastries, coffee and tea. If you have a preferred disembarkation time, this can usually be arranged in advance.
3. In-room wine set up
On arrival, a half bottle of white wine and a half bottle of red wine will be waiting in your stateroom (except for China voyages). We enjoyed one bottle during sailaway and kept the other until later in the cruise. The half-bottles can't be taken to the dining room but this doesn't matter as they're the perfect size for a pre-dinner drink on the balcony.
4. Evening canapes
Each day your stateroom attendant will provide a menu that can be filled out with your choice of cocktail snack such as seafood canapes or prosciutto-wrapped grissini, delivered at your preferred time the following day. We liked the way foods such as cured meats and seafood, which are best enjoyed cold and fresh, weren't left sitting in our room when we weren't there.
5. Club Class Dining
If you enjoy having the same wait staff but aren't keen on traditional dining's lack of flexibility, Club Class Dining will really float your boat. Club Class mini-suite and suite passengers dine in an exclusive section of the main dining room, with upgraded settings and a separate Club Class queue with no wait for a table. Speaking of tables, these are widely spaced with the majority set for two, creating an atmosphere that is more in keeping with an onboard specialty restaurant than the bustling main dining room.
Club Class dining is available daily for breakfast and dinner and for lunch on sea days, with the flexibility to dine whenever you wish (except on Pacific Princess, which doesn't offer Anytime Dining). While the menu is the same as the main dining room, there are some lovely additional touches such as a fresh fruit trolley that is wheeled to each table during breakfast and a daily special prepared gueridon-style. On Sea Princess, the debonair Italian Club Class maitre d' whipped up daily dishes from his home town of Genoa. Ask what each night's bespoke dishes are at the start of your cruise, so you can plan specialty dining around them. Whatever you do, don't miss formal night as there will almost certainly be a divine Club Class lobster dish.
One thing that didn't bother us but could be an issue for some passengers (or a major bonus, for those who would prefer not to eat with extended family each night): other passengers cannot dine in this area, even as invited guests, so Club Class may not suit if you're travelling as a group.