Star Princess highlights all that is attractive about Princess Cruises' Grand Class of ships. You'll find dining experiences like the British pub lunch or dinner at Sabatini's, the line's signature Italian restaurant; bars and lounges like the nautical Wheelhouse, Vines wine bar or SkyWalkers nightclub; and the Zen adults-only sun deck called The Sanctuary. If you have the chance to sail onboard 2,600-passenger Star Princess -- or any of its eight Grand-class fleetmates -- we offer a few reasons you might want to go.
Obviously the focus will vary by itinerary, but we feel that Princess connects the destinations quite well to the onboard experience. On our Alaska cruise, Star hosted lumberjacks, storytellers and naturalists as part of the line's North to Alaska program, and there was even a midnight sun deck party. From gold-nugget crafts to authentic Alaskan cuisine, touches of our itinerary were found everywhere and enhanced the sailing.
Vines wine bar is located off of Star Princess' Piazza, the three-story atrium that's a hub for entertainment onboard. With 30 varietals and discerning staff to help choose your pour, Vines is a popular bar, day or night, across many Princess ships. The nice thing about Vines on Star Princess is, with the purchase of a glass of wine, you are welcome to the day's complimentary selection of tapas and sushi. Because the selections are rotating and not written down, you will enjoy a delicious surprise with your evening sauvignon blanc.
Not only is it easy to soak up some tranquility onboard with the Lotus Spa, but it's also not difficult to physically soak in one of the ship's many pools and hot tubs. Four pools are located everywhere from the lido deck to the back of the ship and beneath the Sanctuary sun deck, and all of them feature adjacent hot tubs. With such a selection, it should never be that difficult to find a place to swim or steep.
Despite music around the ship and nightly production, comedy or variety shows, we found ourselves stuck to the dinner table or the lounge, night after night. Nothing was particularly wrong with the entertainment; it just wasn't flashy enough to lure us away from limit-testing, multicourse meals. Wining and dining is a strong suit on Star Princess, and if you enjoy a good glass with a fine meal and compelling conversation, why leave?
On some ships, cabins with balconies are limited, sell out quickly or come at a premium. Luckily, on Star Princess, more than 700 of the 1,301 cabins onboard have verandas. That means you have a pretty solid chance of snagging the cabin you want, with more than half sporting private balconies and sea breezes.
You might be thinking: Why do I want to think about laundry on vacation? But touching up a wrinkled suit for formal night or freshening up those shorts your kid seems determined to wear every day might be nice (especially on longer sailings). Conveniently, a self-serve launderette is located on each passenger deck, so you don't have to send out an article of clothing each time it needs a wash or press. Expect to pay a few dollars each for a washer or dryer load, and $1.50 for detergent or softener; use of the irons and ironing boards is free.
Chocolate Journeys, Princess Cruises' partnership with chocolatier Norman Love, means touches of chocolatey goodness are everywhere onboard, from a featured dessert on your dinner menu to a specially designed drinks menu. At the bar, try the ebony & ivory -- two Champagne cocktails infused with tea and chocolate for the price of one -- or the chocolate bacon bourbon special. For an additional price, Vines hosts nightly wine and chocolate pairings that coat your tongue with five combinations of rich cocoa and red wine. And for the ultimate indulgence, enjoy a chocolate spa treatment.
If taking in a flick is your idea of a good night, add reclining deck chairs, blankets, popcorn, a big screen and an open sky. Princess Cruises' signature Movies Under the Stars projects recent films and coveted classics in a large viewing area on Deck 15. Enjoy the romance of the sea and stars, grab a cocktail, or jump in the pool, watching the plot unfold as you wade; either way, it sure beats a theater.
Most major cruise lines have kids clubs, but even tweens and teens seemed occupied with their own events on our sailing. The FunZone provides age-appropriate activities for kids 3 to 12, and a partnership with the California Science Center ensures some learning is sneaked into the play. Entourage engages the 13-to-17 set with themed dances, sports tournaments and even teen-only dinners on formal nights. When in doubt, video games seemed popular with younger cruisers. Princess will even provide club activities on port days so parents have an opportunity to explore on their own if they choose.
While Horizon Court runs late, even the buffet has to shut down at some time. If you're feeling peckish -- even at an ungodly hour -- International Cafe on Deck 5 is there to help. Offering bistro-style sandwiches, salads and pastries free of charge, the cafe is open 24 hours a day, and it's smack in the middle of the Piazza. If you're hungry and don't even feel like leaving your cabin, room service is available around the clock for free.
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