Princess Cruises started its cruising career in the 1960s, with one ship cruising to Alaska in the summer and the Mexican Riviera in the winter. Today Princess Cruises has grown to be a leader in worldwide destination cruising, with a fleet of new ships cruising the globe. The Princess fame began in earnest when some smart marketing executive in the late 1970s signed an agreement for the filming of the televison series "The Love Boat" onboard one of the Princess cruise ships, the original Pacific Princess. From that point Princess Cruises was a household name, and it is still today one of the best known names in the cruise industry.
For a long time, Princess Cruises was known to the cruising public as "The Love Boats", but with the changing demographics of the cruise market the cruise line gradually moved towards appealing to a larger audience. Love is still important on a Princess ship, but the new, big Princess cruise ships are designed to have something for every type of cruise enthusiast and every age group.
Princess is the cruise line that invented the concept of having a large number of private balconies on cruise ships. We first saw that concept on the original Royal Princess, built in 1984, but then it took Princess until 1997 to build the next new ships. The cruise ships of the Princess "Sun Class" arrived with more than 400 cabins and suites having a private balcony. From there the race was on. Suddenly every other cruise line understoood that this was a great idea. Those who "love" having their own cruise ship balcony have a lot to thank Princess for.
The Worldwide Cruise Experts
Princess Cruises is a leader in worldwide destination cruising. No matter what part of the world, Princess has the experience of having cruised there for years. They know the best ports to visit, and have well planned cruise itineraries. Princess Cruises has particular expertise in Alaska, where they are one of the two leaders in Alaska cruises and cruise tours, operating their own railcars, motorcoaches, and five luxury lodges.
Dining on Princess Cruises
Dining on Princess Cruises can be Traditional Dining, "Anytime" Dining, or dining on one of the specialty restaurants. The preferred type of dining is selected at time of booking, subject to availability. Lunch and dinner are also available buffet style in the 24-hour Horizon Court buffet restaurant.
Traditional dining in the main restaurants with 1st and 2nd seatings at assigned tables means that one dines at the same time and the same table every night. The benefit of this is that one meets other passengers and can make new friends. The 1st seating starts around 6:00 p.m., and 2nd seating around 8:15 p.m. (times may vary by ship and itinerary, but please note that dinner service begins promptly at posted times).
"Anytime" dining is available on Princess ships in the Coral, Crown, Grand and Diamond class (see below about "classes"). It should be emphasized that it is important to select this type dining at time of booking, because if one has selected the traditional dining it is difficult to change to "Anytime" once onboard the ship (one can ask, but it will be subject availability only). Anytime Dining means that, just like at a restaurant ashore, you can dine in a selection of elegant restaurants any time between 5:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. (times vary by ship). Reservations are recommended, and can be made onboard the ship. Please note that ships in the Sun and Pacific class do not have "Anytime" dining.
The open seating option is definitely on its way to becoming the most popular dining option, and not only on Princess Cruises. For larger parties traveling together, and for families with small children the traditional 1st and 2nd seating is still the best option. For everyone else it depends on personal preferences. Just remember that on Princess Cruises' "Anytime" dining should be selected at time of booking.
All Princess ships also offer one or more exclusive specialty restaurants for special evenings, such as Sterling's Steakhouse and Sabatini's. Reservations are recommended, and a nominal fee applies.
Cabins and Suites on Princess Cruise Ships
Cabins and Suites on Princess Cruises feature a spacious design, with all the extras a modern cruise ship has to offer. Balcony cabins and suites are especially comfortable for private relaxation on your own balcony during lazy days at sea. For longer cruises the Mini Suites offer extra comfort, with a separate sitting area with a comfortable sofa and chair, and a bathroom with a full bathtub.
Princess Cruises showlounge productions feature Broadway style shows with a large cast of professional singers and dancers from around the world. In addition to a different main show each evening, you can enjoy dancing, karaoke, and comedy shows in the many vibrant bars and lounges. A Princess specialty is "Movies Under The Stars", a 300 square foot poolside movie screen featuring movies and sports events throghout the day and evening (not available on Pacific class ships).
Princess Cruises is popular for family vacations, with some of the best kids and teens facilities and programming of any cruise line. The big ships of Princess are a consistently great experience and great value for families (limited services on the small Pacific class ships).
Princess has a year-round activities program for children between the ages of 2 and 12, with activities generally divided into age groups of 3-7 "Princess Pelicans" and 8-12 years old "Shockwaves". There is also group kidsitting service for ages 3-12.
For teenagers, there is a Remix Teen Center for 13 to 17 year olds, packed with electronics, giant screen TVs, karaoke, teens-only dance parties, sports tournaments, pizza parties, and more.
Princess Cruises' Ships
The cruise ships of Princess Cruises come in five different "classes". New cruise ships are usually ordered from shipyards as a series of cruise ships of similar design. This helps keep the cost of construction down. Cruise ship "classes" are used to describe such series of similarly designed ships.
The Grand, Diamond and Crown class are all similar in design. The Grand class were the first, and feature the exciting Skywalkers Nightclub 15 decks above the sea in the aft part of the ship. The Diamond and Crown class are evolutions of the Grand class, with several changes in ship layout design and capacity, but keeping the same overall atmosphere.
by Ralph Grizzle. An award-winning travel writer, and recognized cruise ship expert.
Research shows that most people planning a trip to Alaska want to see two places: Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park. You can get to Glacier Bay aboard a cruise ship and admire the national park’s stunning scenery from the comfort of your balcony stateroom. But to get to Denali (a.k.a. Mt. McKinley), you’ll have to get off the ship, lace up your hiking boots, and trek inland. That’s where a cruisetour comes in.
Cruisetours combine a cruise voyage with a fully escorted stay on land. The cruise lines have streamlined their product so that you’ll pay one price in exchange for two vacations ‘“ one at sea, and the other on land in the Alaskan interior.
You’ll also enjoy two completely different travel experiences. While at sea, you’ll gaze out at glaciers, fjords, and lots of marine life. While in the interior, you’ll see snow-capped mountains (on a clear day, you may want to “fly by” Denali, North America’s tallest peak), wildlife, and what some have called “the real Alaska.”
While a cruise offers travelers an excellent taste of Alaska, a cruisetour serves up the complete five-course dinner — the total Alaska experience.
Princess employs their own tour guides, owns their own fleet of comfortable buses, and operates private glass-domed railcars that hitch up to the Alaska Railroad for the journey between Anchorage and Denali. The rail journey alone is spectacular — on a clear day, you’ll spot Denali’s dome several times from along the rails.
In total, a cruisetour will last anywhere from 10 days to three weeks. That includes the cruise portion of your trip, and you can choose to add your land stay either before or after you sail. Some cruisetours include two full days in Denali National Park, allowing you plenty of time to spot grizzly bears and admire the mountain scenery.
Travelers can explore Denali via 90 miles of semi-paved road that reaches deep into the park, or take to the skies and see Denali from an aerial perspective. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to stay in back country lodges or mountain chateaus, and you’ll likely spend at least one night in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city.
Some cruise lines offer close to thirty different cruisetour options. With so many variations available, it’s always advisable to speak to your cruise consultant about which option is best for you. Cruisetours also fill up quickly, so plan as far in advance as possible. The greatest number of cruisetour bookings occur in October and November — for the following year’s peak season — but it’s never too late to see what’s available.
Alaska is enormous. At 586,412 square miles, it’s more than twice the size of Texas, and cruise lines skirt only a small portion of the state’s 33,904 combined miles of coastline. For many, the real Alaska lies in the vast wilderness beyond the shorelines — and a cruisetour can take you there.