The newest ship from Princess Cruises, Enchanted Princess, sets sail tomorrow, November 10, with its first passengers. The 3,560-passenger ship will homeport in Fort Lauderdale for Caribbean cruises during the winter season before heading to Europe in spring 2022.
Enchanted Princess continues the growth of Princess' Royal Class, as well as the continued expansion of the line's OceanMedallion capabilities. While Enchanted Princess is the fifth of the line's Royal Class, joining sisters Royal, Regal, Majestic and Sky Princess, it has many of the new and improved features of the latter ship.
Cruise Critic was onboard Enchanted Princess for a quick first look this week, and will be doing a full sailing later in November. Here are some of the highlights of this new ship.
The wearable technology pioneered by Princess has become even more potent since the COVID-19 pandemic. (It originally was known as OceanMedallion but now the line is calling it simply "Medallion.") The line has incorporated e-muster technology into the Medallion, allowing people to do the bulk of the safety briefing from their cabins, eradicating crowds.
New with Medallion, we were told, is the ability to know how many passengers are at a particular level. "Some people are not comfortable in crowds," said Vicki Johnson, Carnival Corporation Global Innovation spokesperson. "This provides our guests with more insights so they can determine what is right for them."
Another development with Medallion is the CrewCall chat feature, which alleviates pesky trips to guest services or long phone calls. There's also a call button-style capability, which brings assistance directly to your cabin, if you need it. People who have used Medallion before will be happy to know that the technology has been streamlined, with one major app used onboard.
Every ship in the Princess fleet also has the turbo-boosted MedallionNet Wi-Fi, which makes it possible for people to continue video calls and back home check-ins, if they need to.
Looking to really indulge on your vacation? Book one of Enchanted Princess's two Sky Suites. The suites are true two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites, with wrap-around balconies. What's more impressive than the actual suites, however, are the placement: the Sky Suite balconies have a direct view onto the pool deck and the Princess signature Movies Under the Stars.
If you don't want to watch the action, don't worry. The balconies, which come in at an average of 1,000 square feet on their own, also have an outdoor private relaxation section with a multi-person clamshell lounger, day beds, a full outdoor dining table, an outdoor TV and a fully stocked bar that abuts the ship's adults-only Retreat area. So you really have the best of both worlds.
The Sky Suites sleep up to six, and come with their own private suite manager to make their every cruise whim come true.
There are no new-to-the-fleet restaurants on Enchanted Princess, but there are several that have only debuted on other newest Royal-class ships.
One of these is Bistro Sur La Mer, a specialty restaurant designed by Michelin-starred chef Emmanuel Renaut. The seafood-forward venue, which is also found on Majestic and Sky Princess, has a lively location on Deck 7, as well as outdoor seating.
Outdoor seating is a feature, too, of Gigi's Pizzeria, which picks up where beloved standard Alfredo's left off. The menu of individual pizzas, as well as pastas and desserts such as tiramisu, is exactly the same. Passengers have been used to dining outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Princess is betting that going al fresco will be even more important than it was before.
Another line stalwart, Sabatini's Italian Trattoria, has a new addition. The Pasta Room at the front of the restaurant allows passengers to watch artisanal pastas being created, before you eat. There are more pastas available on the menu than at the classic Sabatini's as well.
Finally, people who already love the Ernesto Burger at the Salty Dog Gastropub (one of Cruise Critic's best burgers at sea) will be pleased to know that there's another specialty sandwich on Enchanted Princess. Called the Nasher Burger after the ship's captain Commodore Nick Nash, the off-the-menu offering consists of a patty made from rib eye and short ribs, topped with caramelized onions, crispy hash browns, a slice of pistachio mortadella and curry butter mayonnaise, on a brioche bun. While it's not on the QR-coded menus, the Salty Dog servers are certain to tell you about it.
Jazz lovers will be delighted to know that Take Five, the music venue that debuted on Sky Princess, is also on Enchanted Princess. The space took over the disco on some previous Royal-class ships, and the classy jazz club vibe fits much better with the Princess crowd. Make sure you check out the cocktail menu, with drinks specifically crafted by celebrity mixologist Rob Floyd.
Floyd's creations also reign supreme at Good Spirits, the cocktail bar off of the ship's signature Piazza atrium. The space has been expanded on Enchanted Princess, taking over the area where the Vines wine bar used to be on other Royal-class ships. A few tips: Make sure to find out when the bartenders do their daily cocktail show. And if you're in the mood for something with a little heat, you can't beat the Sandia en Fuego, essentially a spicy watermelon margarita.
Enchanted Princess has 10 pools and hot tubs onboard, similar to Sky Princess. What we find nice about the pools is that they are spread out around the ship, so you always find an area that meets your particular mood.
We've always been big fans of The Retreat, the adults-only pool area on Princess. You can reserve a cabana here if you want, but we've always found that The Retreat has plenty of seating on its own, with a quieter crowd than at the main pool.
The infinity pool at the back of the ship that debuted on Sky Princess is back on Enchanted Princess, which also offers plenty of places to sun. It's hard to beat the views out here.
Finally, if you're really looking to splurge, Enchanted Princess offers The Sanctuary, where you can rent lounge chairs and cabanas in a keyed-off setting. Whether you feel this is worth it depends on what you're looking to get out of your day. The space lacks its own pool, although it has a large hot tub. What you really get here is the personalized bar service, as well as more shade than on other areas of the ship.
Inside the ship, the Lotus Spa has the Enclave thermal spa, which rivals Sky Princess as the line's biggest. We're also impressed with the size of Enchanted Princess' fitness center, also one of the line's largest, with fantastic sea views.