Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 381 out of 500
Accommodation: 146 out of 200
Food: 256 out of 400
Service: 290 out of 400
Entertainment: 77 out of 100
Cruise: 292 out of 400
Overall Score: 1442 out of 2000
Island Princess Statistics
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: Princess Cruises
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9230402
Builder: Chantiers de l’Atlantique (France)
Original Cost: $360 million
Entered Service: Jun 2003
Length (ft/m): 964.5/294.0
Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 26/7.9
Propulsion/Propellers: gas turbine + diesel (40,000kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 11
Total Crew: 900
Passengers (lower beds): 1,974
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 46.4
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.1
Cabins (total): 987
Size Range (sq ft/m): 156-470.0/14.4-43.6
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 727
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 20
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2
Hot Tubs (on deck): 5
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
A comfortable contemporary ship for mature-age cruisers
Overview. The layout is user-friendly aboard this rather pleasant, pencil-slim ship.
The Ship. Island Princess has an instantly recognizable funnel due to two jet engine-like pods that sit high up on its structure, but these really are mainly for decoration. Four diesel engines provide the generating power. Electrical power is provided by a combination of four diesel and one gas turbine (CODAG) unit; the diesel engines are located in the engine room, while the gas turbine unit is located in the ship’s funnel housing. The ship also has three bow thrusters and three stern thrusters.
Island Princess has two decks full of public rooms, lounges, and bars instead of just one. Sensibly, there are three major stair towers for passengers with plenty of elevators for easy access.
A large ‘Movies Under the Stars’ screen is located in the second of two pool areas on the open deck just forward of the funnel. Adults using the ‘Sanctuary’ area have their own splash pool. Walkers will like the ship’s full walk-around exterior promenade deck.
Despite the ship’s size, it’s actually easy to find one’s way around quickly - due to good design and its practical layout. Facilities include a flower shop where you can order flowers and Godiva chocolates for cabin delivery - nice for a birthday or anniversary - a pleasant cigar and cognac lounge (Churchill Lounge), and a Martini bar (Crooners). The casino has a London theme, and both gaming tables and slot machines.
An AOL Internet Café is conveniently located on the top level of the four-deck-high lobby. Adjacent is the Wedding Chapel, with a live web-cam to relay ceremonies via the Internet. The captain can legally marry American couples, thanks to the ship’s registry and a special dispensation. The Wedding Chapel can host renewal of vows ceremonies, for a fee.
This ship has lots of nooks and crannies - so you can hide away and just read a book if you want to. Also, at the forward end of Decks 10 and 11, doors open onto a large observation terrace. There are also several self-service launderettes.
Niggles include the fact that the forward elevators go between Decks 15 and 7, but you will need to change elevators to get down to the dining rooms on Deck 5 (strangely, the ‘panoramic’ elevators go only between Decks 5 and 8; passengers do find this a trifle confusing, but it’s all about the way the layout and flow has to work - from a designer’s point of view, that is).
Accommodation. There are numerous price categories, in six types: 16 suites with balcony (470 sq ft/43.6 sq m); 184 mini-suites with balcony (285-302 sq ft/26.4-28 sq m); eight mini-suites without balcony (300 sq ft/27.8 sq m); 527 outside-view cabins with balcony (217-232 sq ft/ 20.1-21.5 sq m); 144 standard outside-view cabins (162 sq ft/15 sq m); 108 interior cabins (156 sq ft/144.5 sq m). There are also 20 wheelchair-accessible cabins (217-374 sq ft/20.1-34.7 sq m).
Almost all outside-view cabins have a private balcony. Some cabins can accommodate a third, or third and fourth person. Some cabins on Emerald Deck (Deck 8) have a view obstructed by lifeboats. The decor is earth tones. All cabins have a personal safe, hair dryer, small ‘fridge, television, and premium quality bedding.
Suites (16). Each has a private balcony. All suites are located on either Deck 9 or Deck 10. In a departure from many ships, Island Princess doesn’t have any suites or cabins with a view of the stern. There are four Premium Suites, located sensibly in the center of the ship, adjacent to a bank of six elevators. Farther aft are six other suites (Veranda Suites).
All Accommodation. Suites and cabins have a refrigerator, personal safe, TV set with audio channels, hairdryer, satellite-dial telephone, and twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed (there are a few exceptions). All accommodation has a bathroom with shower enclosure and toilet. Accommodation designated as suites and mini-suites (there are seven price categories) have a bathtub and separate shower enclosure, and two TV sets.
All passengers receive turndown service and chocolates on pillows each night, bathrobes on request, and toiletry kits. Most outside-view cabins on Emerald Deck have views obstructed by lifeboats. There are no cabins for singles. Nor are there butlers - even for the top-grade suites. Cabin attendants have too many cabins to look after (typically 20).
Dining. The two main dining rooms, Bordeaux and Provence, are in the forward section of the ship on the two lowest passenger decks. Both are almost identical - the ceilings are quite low, and have plenty of intimate alcoves and cozy dining spots, with tables for two, four, six, or eight. There are two seatings for dinner (or you can opt for ‘Anytime’ Dining in the Bordeaux Restaurant), while breakfast and lunch are on an open-seating basis; you may have to wait for some while at peak times.
Other dining options. There are two extra-charge restaurants: Sabatini’s and the Bayou Café, both enclosed and both requiring reservations. Sabatini’s, with colorful tiled Mediterranean-style decor, has Italian-style pizzas and pastas, with a variety of sauces, as well as Italian-style entrées including tiger prawns and lobster tail, all provided with flair and entertainment by the waiters. The food is both creative and tasty. There is a cover charge for lunch or dinner on sea days only.
The Bayou Café, open for lunch and dinner, has a cover charge that includes a Hurricane cocktail. It evokes the charm of New Orleans’ French Quarter, with wrought-iron decoration, and features Cajun/Creole cuisine. Platters include Peel ’n’ Eat Shrimp Piquante, Sausage Grillades, Oysters Sieur de Bienville. Popular entrées include premium steaks, Seafood Gumbo, and Chorizo Jambalaya, plus Alligator Ribs, Corn Meal Fried Catfish, Blackened Chicken Brochette, and Red Pepper Butter Broiled Lobster. Desserts include sweet potato pie and banana whiskey pound cake. The venue has a small stage, with baby grand piano and live jazz is part of the evening dining scenario.
Horizon Court, a casual 24-hour eatery, is in the forward section of Lido Deck with superb ocean views. Self-serve counters provide food for breakfast and lunch buffets, and bistro-style casual dinners are available each evening. Sadly, there’s just not enough seating for the number of passengers using the facility.
Also, La Pâtisserie, in the reception lobby, is a coffee, cakes, and pastries spot and good for informal meetings. There’s also a pizzeria, hamburger grill, and an ice cream bar (extra charge for the ice cream).
Entertainment. The Princess Theater is two decks high, and, unusually, there is much more seating in the upper level than on the main floor below. Princess Cruises prides itself on its colourful Hollywood-style production shows.
A second entertainment venue, the Universe Lounge, is more for cabaret-style features. It also has two levels, and three separate stages, enabling non-stop entertainment to be provided without constant set-ups. Some 50 of the room’s seats are equipped with a built-in laptop computer. The room is also used for cooking demonstrations (it has a full kitchen set), and other participation activities.
Princess Cruises always provides plenty of live music in bars and lounges, with a wide mix of light classical, jazz, and dance music, from solo entertaining pianists to showbands, and volume is normally kept to an acceptable level.
Those craving education can learn aboard ship with the ScholarShip@Sea program, which includes about 20 courses per cruise (six on any given day at sea). Although all introductory classes are free, fees apply if you want to continue any chosen subject in a smaller setting. There are four core subjects: culinary arts, visual/creative arts, photography, and computer technology. A full culinary demonstration kitchen set is built into the Universe Lounge (it’s also used for wine tastings), and there’s a pottery studio with kiln.
Spa/Fitness. The Lotus Spa is located aft on one of the ship’s uppermost decks. It contains men’s and women’s saunas, steam rooms, changing rooms, relaxation area, beauty salon, aerobics exercise room, and gymnasium with aft-facing ocean views, with high-tech muscle-pumping, cardiovascular equipment. There are several large rooms for individual treatments.
Sports enthusiasts will find a nine-hole golf putting course, two computerized golf simulators, and a sports court.