Pacific Princess offers some of the line's more exotic itineraries in Europe, Asia and South America, including an annual world cruise beginning each January and typically departing from Ft. Lauderdale. The 30,277-ton, 680-passenger ship was acquired in 2002 from now-defunct Renaissance Cruises, and it is by far the smallest ship in Princess' fleet.
With its dark wood and plush interiors, Pacific Princess more resembles a manor house or country inn than a Princess ship. The more intimate size facilitates friendliness; don't be surprised if the staff knows your name and says hello when you pass by.
Princess Cruises has a policy of no tipping in Australia, but a gratuity is automatically added to spa treatments. The onboard currency is Australian dollars when the ship sails in Australia. When the ship is sailing in other destinations and the onboard currency is U.S. dollars, gratuities are charged at $16.50 per person, per day for suites; $15.50 per person, per day for those in mini-suites; and $14.50 per person, per day for everyone else. There is also an automatic 18 percent gratuity added for beverages and spa treatments.
Accommodation-wise, 92 percent of the ship's cabins are outside, 75 percent of which have verandas. There are only five categories -- Interior Double, Oceanview Double, Oceanview Double with Balcony, Mini-Suites and Suites -- but there is significant variety within the categories, so consult deck plans and cabin reviews before booking.
Club Restaurant (Deck 5): The ship's only main dining room, the pleasant Club Restaurant mostly has tables for four, but has a handful for two and six along the periphery. The six-person tables are set against the walls with banquette seating for three. Unlike Princess' larger ships, Pacific Princess does not feature a flexible dining option; there are early and late shifts only at 6:15 and 8:15 p.m.
Panorama Buffet (Deck 9): Like so much else on Pacific Princess, the buffet is small; with several choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and seating both inside and out. (Unlike on many other ships, the food stations are not identical on either side of the space.) There is a Prego Pizzeria counter with two everyday options (margherita and pepperoni) and a daily special. A free drink station is located outside or flag a waiter down to bring you a glass of iced tea, lemonade or ice water.
Poolside Grill (Deck 9): A standard poolside grill with hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries.
Sabatini's (Deck 10); $25: Princess' signature Italian fine dining restaurant makes an appearance on Pacific Princess with the original menu (some ships have different, modern menu). The bright space has light blue walls with bas relief sculptures of soldiers on horseback at the front.
Sterling Steakhouse (Deck 10); $29 per adult and $14.50 for children ages 3 to 12: Alternatively referred to as The Grill and with menus that say Crown Grill, this is nevertheless the line's signature steakhouse. Located directly across from Sabatini's (they essentially share one big space that's been divided in half by the kitchen), the decor here is slightly darker with brown and white rugs with an art deco design, and black and white photos of famous actors on the walls.
Evening entertainment revolves around the ship's sole theater, the Cabaret Lounge, which is equipped with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system and presents a full schedule of options, including first-run movies, live music, variety shows and more.
Daily Fun & At Night
Live piano music is available at the Casino Bar, and the adjacent casino offers table games and slot machines. Sea days may include destination-specific lectures, and classes on photography and computer technology (all are part of Princess' enrichment-focused ScholarShip@Sea program).
Pacific Lounge (Deck 10): This large lounge near the top of the ship doubles as the ship's secondary theater space with a small stage and dance floor that is mostly used for live music. With its floor-to-ceiling windows and front-of-the-ship location, it offers wonderful views. There are plenty of places to sit.
Club Bar (Deck 5): Located outside the Club Restaurant, this is where many people go for pre- or post-dinner drinks. It's got a library feel to it with dark wood, a tan and brown carpet, and table lamps with yellowish lamp shades.
Casino Bar (Deck 5): This sizable bar is located opposite the small casino. It's actually a nice spot to sit and read when the casino is closed.
Pacific Princess has only one pool on Deck 10, along with two hot tubs. Surrounding the pool is plenty of sun deck space for relaxing with a book; there's more sun deck space at the very front of Deck 12.
You won't find much recreational activity on Pacific Princess, and what is there is geared toward a senior demographic that isn't looking to play basketball or even Ping-Pong. All there is, on Deck 12, is a driving cage to practice your golf swing (on the right-hand side of the ship) and a single shuffleboard court (on the left-hand side). There's also a jogging track on Deck 10.
Most of Pacific Princess' main services are located on Deck 4, including the guest services and excursion desks, but the future cruise sales desk is on Deck 5.
You'll also find the ship's small selection of retail outlets on Deck 5, with everything from designer clothing and accessories to duty-free goods and snacks and sundries. The photo gallery is along the right-hand corridor opposite the casino.
On Deck 10 you'll find the large library, all done up in dark woods, with tall, leather dark green armchairs, tan sofas, brass wall sconces and faux Chinese vase table lamps. There are plenty of books for borrowing, plus a selection of board games and several jigsaw puzzles.
There's a card room on Deck 9, where afternoon bridge games are not uncommon. Next door is the Internet Cafe, which is larger than you usually find on modern cruise ships nowadays with seven computer stations, a printer and a manned help desk (with select open hours). Pricing is done by package: The Social package gets you access to social media websites and apps for $14.99 a day; the Surf package costs $24.99 per day and gives you access to most of the web, but doesn't allow for streaming content; the Premium package offers everything and costs $29.99 per day. Packages are available for up to 31 days in length.
With just four treatment rooms, it's hard to refer to the Lotus Spa as a full spa but it does offer a full range of massages, facials, body treatments and leg-focused reflexology, plus salon services (hair and nails), as well as teeth whitening, and beard shaves for men. Prices are high, but if you book three treatments at once you will get 10 percent off the first, 20 percent off the second and 30 percent off the third.
Inside the men's and women's locker rooms is a steam room, which is reserved for the use of anyone who has purchased a spa treatment or a pass to the Thalasso Pool.
Just outside spa is the ship's Thalasso Pool (a saltwater pool said to be good for the body) and sun deck, which costs extra to use -- $199 per person for a week or $299 for a couple.
The spa is open from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The small fitness center on Pacific Princess has a number of treadmills, stationary bikes, Precor weight machines, a free weights section and a surprisingly large open area for classes, including Spin classes (the bikes are kept stored along the side of the gym and pulled out for the classes).
Several classes are on offer, including free stretch, abs and total body conditioning classes; most cost extra and include yoga, Tour de Cycle, Pilates and TRX. Classes cost from $12 to $20 per class.
The fitness center also offers a handful of seminars whose main aim is to sell you something; these include burn fat faster, how to increase your metabolism, detox for health and weight loss, secrets to a flatter stomach, footprint analysis, and relieving back, hip and knee pain.
The gym is open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.