The two-storey, palladium-style Princess Theatre is located at the front of the ship on decks 6 and 7. It fills up quickly before a show so groups should arrive early. Be aware, there are no tables or glass holders, as there is no drink service inside the venue. Entertainment is varied, from magicians and musicians to larger- scale productions. Although much of it was Asian-focused on our sailing, we did get to see the new Fantastic Journey, which is coming to Australia and New Zealand. Ambitiously billed as 'the most technologically advanced immersive and cinematic experience at sea ', the pop musical lives up to this big claim. The special effects are spectacular, the costumes are over-the-top and magnificent, and the singers, dancers and aerialists are truly talented. The real crowd-pleaser was an uplifting solo where the female vocalist performs with about 20 illuminated drones flying around her -- a unique and mesmerising moment.
Vista Gaming Lounge
With capacity for more than 300 people, this lounge at the aft of the ship on Deck 7 hosts comedians, illusionists and musicians on stage. Rows of seating face the stage, and at the back of the room are 16 mah-jong tables, the fanciest of which have four-way tile distribution and automatic tile shuffling and organisation. Instructor-led classes and line dances are also held in this show lounge.
During the day, activities take place in the Piazza, spa, bars, shops, casino, theatre and sports courts. There are usually five different things happening every hour; on port days, activities are more limited. Options include seminars, art auctions, dance classes, shopping and beauty events, cooking, cocktail and fruit-carving demonstrations, wine-tasting and sports tournaments. Poolside fun on the Lido Deck includes concerts and movies shown on the big screen and live music on the outdoor stage.
The Grand Casino features a modern array of poker machines and table games in the main area on Deck 6; there are also VIP Gaming and Private Gaming sections, where the decor is more decadent and ceilings are dripping in chandeliers. The Vista Gaming Lounge (Deck 7 aft) has 16 mah-jong tables for passengers to play at any time, as well as instructor-led dancing classes on the dancefloor at specific times. It has not been confirmed what will happen to the mah-jong in Australia and New Zealand.
The evening's entertainment in the Piazza ranges from string quartets, jugglers and acrobats to dancing classes with the staff. For a more relaxing vibe, a pianist or musical duo play in the Crown Grill Bar. Out beside the main pool, watch a recent-release blockbuster at Movies Under the Stars from the comfort of a padded recliner or see the Watercolor Fantasy fountain dancing to the tunes of Michael Jackson or swing music.
Production shows and high-energy musical performances are held in the Princess Theatre, while the more intimate Vista Gaming Lounge sees musicians and solo acts such as comedians performing on a smaller stage. Also, the Princess Live! Studio hosts a singing contest and funny gameshows involving passengers who volunteer to go on stage to compete for prizes. Games include Marriage Match, Yes/No, Majority Rules, Shape It and Blankety Blank. To push on past midnight, a DJ kicks off clubbing in the Piazza around 11:30 p.m. until late. On sailings of a week or more, a dance party is also held on the last night in the Hollywood Pool Club.
Majestic Princess has a good range of drinking venues, as well as many outlets selling non-alcoholic beverages, such as a bubble tea kiosk and a juice bar.
As it stands, there is no Crooners, no Wheelhouse, no Outriggers, no Club 6 and no Skywalkers Nightclub; however, there is a bar with a view of the ship's wake, called the Wake View Bar, and several poolside and indoor options. The majority of bars are located around the three-storey, open-plan Piazza so passengers can see what's happening nearby. On our Asia sailing, lots of people danced all night (and didn't drink) in the Piazza on Deck 5. Most bars were almost empty, but this is sure to dramatically change Down Under.
The wine selection onboard is excellent, with pricing and options for every taste; however, they had run out of most Asian beers on our cruise. More beers and wines from Australia and New Zealand will be added ahead of the local season; we'd also love to see a range of Aussie craft beers for sale.
Sing on the Sea Karaoke Suites (Deck 5): A unique feature of Majestic Princess is its private karaoke space. Six suites, about half the size of a standard cabin, are individually designed with a different theme such as Adele or Michael Jackson. Each suite can be reserved by a group of friends or families (up to six people per suite) to have your own singalong party. Songs are self-selected on touchscreens and bar staff are on hand, outside your room, to serve drinks. In Australia, only one room will be used for karaoke; the other five rooms will be shared with the spa and internet cafe.
Vines (Deck 5): Perfect for wine enthusiasts, Vines has a long list of wines from around the world as well as a selection of wine flights. During pre-dinner hours, tapas and sushi are complimentary with any wine purchase. Patrons can sit at the bar or at tables. Decorated in gold and dark wood, it's a warm, slightly darker space but one wall has oceanview windows to let in natural light while the opposite side is open to the Piazza.
Bellini's (Deck 6): Perch yourself here for the best people-watching spot in the Piazza. Aside from serving its namesake cocktail (a Bellini is prosecco mixed with white peach puree or another juice), other fruity drinks are the specialty of this small bar.
Ocean Terrace Juice Bar (Deck 7): Also overlooking the Piazza, passengers can enjoy non-alcoholic beverages such as juices and mocktails. Unfortunately, it is concentrate and pre-mix, not fresh fruit, that is used for these ' healthy' drinks. It remains to be seen if this will work in Australia or if it switches to a bar serving alcohol.
Casino Bar (Deck 6): The casino has a main bar in the gaming area and a luxurious, private VIP bar, dripping with gold and fancy chandeliers, for 'high rollers' . Smoking is permitted inside the casino in Asia but will become no-smoking in Australia.
Crown Grill Bar (Deck 7): Essentially an extension of the Crown Grill, this large bar has solid wooden chairs, lamps and dim lighting. It does most of its business in the hour before dinner but will probably be popular among Australians looking for a comfy indoor spot to settle into longer sessions.
Leaves Tea Bar (Deck 7): Adjacent to Princess Live! Studio, this kooky kiosk sells Taiwan-style bubble tea (gong cha), as well as treats such as tapioca and banana pudding.
Vista Gaming Lounge (Deck 7): A bar is located inside this lounge, which hosts mah-jong games, live music and performers such as comedians.
Fountain Pool Bar (Deck 16): This is the main bar on the Lido and gets busy on warm, sea days. Beers and cocktails are the name of the game here.
SeaView Bar (Deck 16): Situated near a cantilevered walkway on starboard side, opposite the SeaWalk, this small bar is a novelty for its location and entertaining bartenders.
Wave View Bar (Deck 16): Offering the best outlook over the back of the ship's wake, this bar is criminally empty. With panoramic ocean views and lots of seating and deck space to spread out, it should be buzzing. Instead it's an underrated, peaceful space to kick back and soak in the fabulous vista.
Head to Deck 16 for the main action. The ship's largest pool is the Fountain Pool, with an adjacent, smaller plunge pool, and both are surrounded by a shallow water area that allows passengers to cool off their feet or let the kids play in. Two hot tubs are located on either side of the pool. The only other swimming spot is found inside the Hollywood Pool Club on Deck 17. This adults-only pool is covered by a glass dome to keep the room and water at a comfortable temperature, regardless of weather, but we often found it was too cold from the air-conditioning.
The large sports courts area on Deck 18 aft is called Princess Sports Central. Activities include basketball, tennis, volleyball, badminton, bean bag toss, giant foosball and minigolf, plus a putting green and driving cage. Perhaps due to the vigorous table tennis skills of Chinese passengers, there are ping pong tables enclosed with nets. Unusual for a cruise ship, there is a laser shooting simulator for fixed target practice, as well as an outdoor gym on Deck 17 aft.
Instead of the Sanctuary found on other Princess ships, Majestic introduces the Hollywood Pool Club and Hollywood Conservatory. These adults-only spaces are enclosed, allowing views through the panoramic windows and a glass dome ceiling. In the pool section, there are two hot tubs, lots of reclining sun-lounges and a bar with about a dozen barstools along it. Decorated with topiary trees in pots, sculptures and blue and purple lighting, it has a relaxing ambience. The under cover pool itself is just about big enough to do short laps and has a ' moat' of ankle-deep water around it so you can dip in your feet without getting in. On one night of each cruise, a dance party with a DJ is held here.
Through to the back of the ship is the more stylish section known as the Conservatory. It's basically a games room for grown-ups, with giant chess, electric xylophones and drums, and quirky topiary trees trimmed into the shape of animals and a dancing family. Passengers can also book private cabanas, which are like living rooms, equipped with a television, couch and ottoman.
Between these two Hollywood hot spots is a wishing wall. A tribute to the Asian tradition of making a wish and releasing a lantern into the sky, the wall has pictures of sky lanterns that passengers can write their wishes on. Entry is free.
Majestic Princess also boasts sun deck areas overlooking the main pool on decks 16 and 17, as well as the Horizon Terrace, a peaceful area aft on Deck 16, adjacent to Outrigger Bar, that provides a mix of sun and shade. Two hot tubs on Deck 17 overlook the main Lido Deck area and are perfect for checking out the action or watching the movie screen.
Guest services and the shore excursions desk can be found near the Piazza on Deck 5, which serves as the hub of the ship. At the other end is a travel agent where passengers can book future Princess cruises. A large digital photo and video gallery is on Deck 6 midship, next to the art gallery. The ship's formal photo studio, Platinum Studio, is located on Deck 17. The medical centre is on Deck 4.
A library with a small selection of books and an internet cafe are adjacent on Deck 7. Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship, too. Passengers can buy pay-as-you-go packages starting at 120 minutes for US$69 up to 680 minutes for US$199; these prices will change in Australia. Keep an eye out for embarkation day specials, which can save a few dollars.
The bulk of the shopping is on Deck 7 with more on Deck 5. The duty-free outlets are Princess's most luxurious to date: Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo, Coach, Swarovski and an EFFY jewellery store, to name a few. Other shops sell souvenirs, branded clothing, toiletries, sunglasses, handbags, scarves and more.
Passengers can do their own laundry at the self-service facilities located on each deck from 8 through 15. Laundries are equipped with washing machines, dryers, iron and ironing board; detergent and fabric softener can be purchased from vending machines. A laundry service, charging by the item, is also available by ordering using the form in your cabin.
Majestic Princess's Lotus Spa on Deck 5 is a typically serene space, although the reception area gets a lot of passing traffic as it is between the elevators and the guest services area. One area is used for hair, nail and men's grooming services; the private rooms are used for massages, facials, body wraps, waxing and MediSpa anti-wrinkle treatments, lip fillers and other cosmetic enhancements. Side-by-side massages for couples are held in a larger room with a giant tub for two, steam room and bathroom.
The Enclave is housed in the spa. This is Princess Cruises' largest thermal suite and it's a lovely escape for a few hours. The dimly lit space is dominated by a hydrotherapy soaking pool with very strong water outlets that massage the neck and shoulders or you can lay on a bench area with gentler jets. Around the pool are relaxing stone beds, water beds, sensory showers, a sauna and two types of steam rooms. Passengers who purchase spa treatments aren't entitled to use the Enclave, which keeps it quiet and exclusive. Passes can be purchased for US$39; Australian season pricing is yet to be determined.
Majestic Princess' fitness centre is on Deck 17. The gym is long, narrow and lined with large windows. Cardio equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, rowers and spin bikes, face the ocean view. A very good selection of weight machines is in one corner, as well as a cable machine, Smith machine with plates and free weights up to 100 pounds. A separate aerobics studio is used for Pilates, boot camp, spin classes, which cost extra. A free stretching class is held in this room every morning, while Zumba classes are held in the Piazza. The fitness centre opens at 7 a.m.
A second, all-hours, outdoor gym is located on Deck 17 aft with amazing views of the ocean and the ship's wake. The resistance equipment, which work using body weight, is the non-electric type you would find at a beachside gym, such as simplified versions of a stepping machine and a leg press. Not found on other ships based in Australia, this family-friendly gym is a great addition for adults and kids alike.
Deck 18 has a walking/jogging track. Seven laps are the equivalent of a mile or 1.6 kilometres.
Families will find lots of facilities and activities to be entertained on a cruise onboard Majestic Princess. Appropriate accommodation options are plentiful, with a wide selection of cabins that can accommodate four passengers, while the suites and mini-suites offer more space and a sofa bed in a separate area from the parent's bed. The ship's handful of connecting cabins are also ideal for families to stay in rooms next to each other.
Princess Cruises has a solid line-up of family-friendly and supervised kids programs. Majestic Princess' kid clubs are colourful, inspiring and in good-as-new condition. Group baby-sitting is available from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for children aged three to 12. It costs US$5 per child, per hour. The ship has no private in-cabin babysitting. On port days, parents are permitted to leave their children in the kids' clubs while they go ashore.
For kids aged three to seven, Camp Discovery is designed like a treehouse. Activities include pyjama movie nights, art projects and Lego boat-building. Older kids aged eight to 12 hang out in The Lodge, a games room with foosball, comfy sitting areas and computers. Among the events are talent shows, treasure hunts, theme nights and science-based programs where they can build a rocket or rollercoaster. Children under age three can participate in events when accompanied by an adult, and special toddler games are available. Children must be potty-trained to participate in group events without a parent present.
The Beach House is for teenagers only. This cool lounge has late-night movies, hip hop classes, video game tournaments and a Rock the Boat dance party with mocktails. Outside on the sports deck, staff organise dodgeball and basketball tournaments. Teens can come and go with no parental approval required.