Editor's Note: Island Princess' theater now hosts the line's own spinoff of NBC's "The Voice," called "The Voice of the Ocean," in which passengers who are handpicked from karaoke auditions earlier in the week compete for winning title.
The two-level Princess Theater on Deck 7 with ruby red seats holds 688 guests. During the day, it is the occasional venue for port lectures and culinary demonstrations; the latter is often followed by a ship's galley tour. Occasionally, afternoon movies are shown here.
There are two evening performances each night, at 8:15 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. These might be production shows -- such as a tribute to Motown -- that feature the Island Princess singers and dancers. While these shows are perfectly watchable, they are nothing to get too excited over; on our cruise, the singers and dancers weren't always in sync.
Guest performers make up the rest of the evening entertainment; we saw a multi-instrumentalist, comedian/musician and singer/keyboardist. Quality can range from mediocre to fantastic.
Trivia games held in the Explorers Lounge, Wheelhouse Lounge or at the Lido pool are frequent and fun for those who enjoy them, while there is occasional electronic gaming in the form of Wii Sports hosted by the entertainment staff. Other daily activities come in the shape of carpet bowls, Ping-Pong competitions, Hoopla (with a bottle of bubbly as the prize) and bingo. There are also port lectures, art auctions, craft-making classes and wine tastings (with a price tag of $9.50). One afternoon on our cruise, an Italian tenor serenaded everyone for an hour with popular opera songs, and on another, passengers participated in a fashion show in the atrium (Deck 5), modeling fashion apparel, accessories and jewelry available from the boutiques onboard. Although Movies Under the Stars (M.U.T.S.) comes into its own after dark, occasional movies, concerts and sporting events are also shown during the day.
Most of the evening entertainment onboard takes place in the various lounges. However, the atrium is the scene of regular piano sessions, while the art gallery (Deck 7) holds occasional exhibitions.
The casino and casino bar on Deck 6 are usually busy in the evenings. The casino offers roulette, slots, poker, Texas Hold 'Em and craps. Gaming lessons are held here a couple of times a week for those who want to learn how to play blackjack and roulette. While at sea, the small casino bar is open from 9 a.m. until late.
Movies Under the Star (M.U.T.S.) is Princess' name for its giant poolside movie screen. Evening movies are usually shown at 8 p.m. and/or 10 p.m. Passengers can relax on loungers with cozy tartan blankets and munch on complimentary popcorn.
After midnight, there is very little going on around Island Princess; most of the bars and lounges are deserted by then.
The ship has a nice selection of bars and lounges for reading, hanging out in, meeting friends or having a drink. There is no dedicated nightclub.
Passengers can buy an all-inclusive drinks package for $49 per person per day. This includes cocktails, wine, beer, sodas, lattes, cappuccinos and bottled water. A 15percent gratuity is added to the price. The package does not include beverages above $10, souvenir items, minibar items, in-room service or vending machine items.
Explorers Lounge (Deck 6): This Far East and Africa themed lounge with a 760-square-foot dance floor offers entertainment including cabaret acts, singers, magicians and comedians. On our cruise, it was at its busiest from around 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. when most acts performed but even then was never overcrowded. Karaoke Power Hour, held a couple of times per week, starts at 10 p.m. This lounge is also the only place to offer the Chocolate Cocktails menu, with concoctions like chocolate salted caramel rum shakes and chocolate bacon bourbon specials. Bar service is available from 5 p.m. to around 11:30 p.m., though the lounge is used throughout the day for activities.
Churchill Lounge (Deck 7): A bright space for smokers with lots of windows, this cigar and spirits lounge holds just 15 people.
Crooners Bar (Deck 7): This small, comfortable 1960s-era martini bar is decorated with a variety of '50s and '60s themed black-and-white prints on the walls. It is the venue for some early evening singles get-togethers. From 9 p.m. it's where to go to listen to cocktail melodies on the piano. Open from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Wheelhouse Bar (Deck 7): The Wheelhouse Bar feels like a classic, private club and is filled with nautical memorabilia including a brass ship's wheel, semaphore lamp and engine room telegraph. Walls are enhanced by nautical paintings. It's a comfortable place with plenty of leather sofas and chairs and has live music most evenings. Show off your dance moves on the 625-square-foot dance floor or just relax with a drink. Open from 3 p.m. to around midnight.
Outdoor Bars (Deck 14): Deck 14 is home to two outdoor bars. The Lido Bar serves the pool of the same name and is right next to the pizzeria. The Lotus Bar is between the pool and the spa. These poolside bars are busy when the weather is fine.
The Lido Deck (Deck 14) houses two pools. One is the Lido Pool, which is surrounded by white metal sun loungers topped with blue-and-white striped cushions. It has three hot tubs. The other is the Lotus Pool with two hot tubs. The Lotus Pool is covered by a retractable glass dome and has a swim-against-the-current feature. Green cushioned, teak loungers are placed close together here as there isn't a great deal of space. There is a large, but very shallow ( 8-inch deep) splash pool on Deck 16, which is surrounded by rows of white metal framed loungers topped with blue-and-white striped cushions. This area is reasonably spacious so rarely feels overcrowded.
The sports court on Deck 16 has a netted basketball court, shuffleboard, table tennis and giant checkers. A separate nine-hole mini-golf course is located on Deck 15, as well as two Ping-Pong tables.
The Princess Sanctuary on Deck 15 ($40 for a full day, $20 for a half day) is a peaceful outdoor adult-only retreat with soft piped music, plenty of greenery and lots of cream and blue seating with squishy, deep cushions -- sofas, loungers and tub chairs. On-call stewards are a delight; they are on hand to take food and drink orders and bring towels if required. The menu offers a complimentary selection of smoothies and healthy light bites like fruit salad and fruit kebabs. All Sanctuary guests can borrow a pre-loaded MP3 player to listen to their music of choice.
Those passengers who love extra luxury with their leisure have the option of hiring a massage cabana for a fee of $140 for a half day or $220 for a full day. Several are sprinkled throughout the Sanctuary. Cabanas come with colonial-style roof fans, sofas, enormous tub chairs, a fridge, flat-screen TV, a bottle of wine, a bucket of beer (contains 6 bottles), soft drinks, fruit kebabs, MP3 players and face spritz mists. The use of thick, plush sun loungers is also included in the price. Passengers can take advantage of spa treatments, like alfresco massages, in their cabanas. (All Sanctuary guests are entitled to book a 15-minute back, shoulder and neck massage at one of the deck's massage chairs.)
The medical center is on Deck 4 midship and is open every day between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and again from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Passenger services is on Deck 5. A machine nearby will print out your onboard statement, so you don't have to queue up to check your bill; it's right next to a currency exchange machine. The Captain's Circle membership desk is also on Deck 5.
The photo gallery is near the casino on Deck 6. If you want a souvenir of your time onboard, it will cost you $34.99 for a package of one 8 x 10 photo and three wallet-size prints, or $44.99 for one 8 x 10 photo, two 5 x 7 photos and three wallet prints.
The Princess Fine Arts Gallery is on Deck 7 midship and opens from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The Internet cafe on Deck 8 is located midship in the atrium. It's divided in two sections and is discreetly hidden from prying eyes by means of a semicircular partition. One section has eight workstations, and the other has five. Pay-as-you-go pricing costs 79 cents per minute, or you can buy packages of 100 minutes for $69 or 600 minutes for $99. There is an additional $3.95 activation fee. If you run into problems, the Internet cafe manager is available from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Deck 8 is also where to find the card room, which has a variety of board games available, and the library (open 24 hours and unmanned).
There is no designated conference room onboard; if you need one, the Hearts & Minds wedding chapel on Deck 8 is the place. Couples can get married here by the captain or renew their vows. (Don't decide on the spur of the moment; the ship needs advance warning.) Also on Deck 8 is the future cruise sales desk, open 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the shore excursions office, which is open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
There are self-service laundromats on decks 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Laundry products are available for purchase, and passengers have free use of the irons and ironing boards.
The Lotus Spa and Beauty Salon on Deck 14 aft is an Asian-inspired retreat. It offers a full range of body and facial treatments, steam and sauna facilities and a hair salon. There is a thermal suite where passengers can relax in a heated ceramic lounger after they enjoy a tropical/fog shower.
Spa services include treatments such as a seaweed massage, a detoxifying treatment that starts with a warm aromatherapy body mask and includes a foot and scalp massage (75 minutes for $195), and Oxydermy facials to fight lines and wrinkles (50 minutes for $169).
Medi-spa offerings -- including cosmetic facial treatments to help banish crow's feet and fillers that plump the lips -- are administered by a licensed spa physician. Complimentary consultations are available. Couples offerings include the popular hot stone massage (75 minutes for $320). Men meanwhile can enjoy a 55-minute pro-collagen grooming treatment with shave for $95.
As part of Princess Cruises Chocolate Journeys partnership with master chocolatier Norman Love, the spa offers chocolate-y therapies including the Chocolate Indulgence Body Treatment, where a rich chocolate mask is applied to the body, followed by a massage using warm chocolate oil (75 minutes for $195, 100 minutes for $259).
A thermal suite offers aromatic steam chambers, a sauna suite, heated stone benches and a tropical rainforest shower. A weeklong pass costs $249. Before your treatment, you can chill out in the Relaxation Room, where you can help yourself to water and herbal teas.
The spa is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on port days, and from 6 a.m. on sea days.
The Lotus Spa Health & Fitness Center is on Deck 6 aft and opens from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The windowless gym has six Nordic trainers, 10 running machines, several exercise cycles, treadmills, weight training equipment and free weights. If you can't function without your daily gym fix, aim to go when the gym opens or before closing time as it can get extremely busy at peak times.
Sunshine Stretch classes are offered at 7 a.m. and 7.30 a.m. These are free. On sea days, yoga and spinning classes are held in the aerobics studio for a fee of $12, while Trax suspension training costs $20 per hour.
The aerobics studio is also one of the locations for occasional free health and wellness seminars. At other times, talks on stress relief, longevity and Oriental medicine take place in the Hearts & Minds studio.
Island Princess has no jogging track. The additions of cabins on the Promenade Deck means joggers and power walkers can't go all the way around the ship on this outer deck; you can exercise here if you don't mind turning around at either end of the U-shape.
Island Princess is family friendly, particularly during school holidays and to that end, they offer fabulous facilities for kids ages 3 to 17 years old. There are six permanent staff with more brought in during busy periods. The minimum age to sail is six months.
The Youth Center (Deck 12) and the Teen Center (Deck 14 aft) are divided into three interconnected spots: Pelicans for 3- to 7-year-olds, Shockwaves for 8- to 12-year-olds and Remix for 13- to 17-year-olds.
The youth center on Deck 12, primarily decorated in yellow and mid blue is equipped with everything from video games and movies to board games and jukeboxes. For the youngest kids, there are facilities for activities like kids' karaoke, toys and arts and crafts. Both Youth and Teen Centers are well equipped with excellent security, access by adults is very strictly controlled.
There is such a choice of complimentary child-friendly activities that you may start to hanker for the days of your youth. The Pelicans are entertained with nonstop activities, including arts and crafts, movies and cartoons, educational workshops, cookie decorating, T-shirt coloring, face painting and pizza and ice cream parties.
Shockwaves kids can enjoy karaoke, Playstation 2/3 and Wii tournaments, movies and cartoons, scavenger hunts, talent shows, a science program, sports tournaments and pajama parties.
Under-3s are welcome, too, provided a parent or guardian accompanies them.
Parents can enjoy shore excursions knowing that their kids are being well looked after onboard. Port day supervision runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening activities from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. On sea days, the centers open from 9 a.m. to noon; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.. They are closed at meal times.
Late-night group baby-sitting for Pelicans and Shockwaves is available from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and costs $5 per hour, per child. Pre-booking is necessary. No private baby-sitting is offered.
Remix caters to the teen crowd with sports competitions, late-night movies, talent shows, DJ workshops, hip-hop dance classes, teen makeovers, Playstation 2/3 and Wii tournaments, scavenger hunts and parties galore, including dance and hot tub parties, pizza and mocktail socials and teens-only formal dinners. Hollywood parties are a great take on the real deal with a red carpet, dating games and even mock paparazzi to give kids the taste of celebrity.
The teen center itself (Deck 14 aft), is decked out in dark tones and offers a mocktail bar, disco area and gaming stations.