Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style
Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Pick Your Ports of Call
One of the most exciting parts of booking a cruise is choosing which destinations you'll visit. With Princess Cruises sailing to over 380 ports on seven continents, you'll have plenty of options to consider. The ports you select can greatly impact your overall cruise experience, so it's important to put some thought into this decision.
Popular port cities like Rome, Athens, Barcelona, and Alaska's Glacier Bay offer incredible history, culture, scenery and cuisine. Visiting these iconic places lets you check off some bucket list items. But don't limit yourself to the greatest hits. Sometimes getting off the beaten path provides an even more memorable experience.
Princess offers cruises to small, charming towns with their own unique flair. Ports like Kotor, Montenegro and Wisby, Sweden may not be household names, but deliver just as much wow-factor. Kotor's dramatic natural landscape and medieval architecture make it feel like a scene from Game of Thrones. Wisby, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, transports you back to the Middle Ages as you explore its ancient city walls and Gothic churches.
Themed cruises are a great way to visit ports centered around your interests. On a culinary cruise, you could learn regional recipes during port stops in Belize, Cozumel and Roatan. A British Isles itinerary might include visits to distilleries in Scotland and cathedrals and castles in Ireland and England. With Alaska cruises, every port brings you up close to natural wonders like massive glaciers, wildlife habitats and national parks.
Repeat cruisers enjoy returning to favorite ports and discovering new hidden gems. But if you're visiting a destination for the first time, it's smart to experience its most iconic attractions. Europe has endless possibilities, but first-timers would be remiss to miss Rome's Colosseum, Paris' Eiffel Tower and Stonehenge's mystical stones.
You can experience ports in depth by spending extra time there. Princess offers pre- and post-cruise land tours that pair a cruise with a multi-day land excursion. This allows you to explore places like Australia's Outback, the Swiss Alps or Cuba more extensively.
Other ways to make the most of ports include shore excursions, hiking and biking tours, food and beverage tastings, cultural shows and volunteer activities. Princess cruises are destination-focused, so you'll have ample opportunities at each port.
What else is in this post?
- Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Pick Your Ports of Call
- Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Consider Ship Size and Passenger Capacity
- Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Choose Your Onboard Activities
- Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Dining Options to Suit Your Tastes
- Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Decide on Cabin Type and Location
- Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Compare Itinerary Lengths
- Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Look at Ship Amenities
- Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Don't Forget the Price Tag
Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Consider Ship Size and Passenger Capacity
The size of a cruise ship and number of passengers onboard can greatly impact your vacation experience. With over 18 ships ranging from 680 to 3,560 guests, Princess offers options to suit different tastes.
Smaller, more intimate ships provide a boutique feel that larger vessels can lack. You’ll enjoy cozier lounges and dining rooms, shorter lines and more attentive service. On Princess' smallest ship Pacific Princess, you’re unlikely to be overwhelmed by crowds at activities or tender ports. The compact size makes it feel more like a private yacht.
Mid-size Princess ships carry 1,300-2,000 guests. This offers more amenities than smaller ships without feeling too massive. You can easily navigate around the vessel and won’t struggle to find open deck chairs or make dinner reservations. There’s a comfortable balance of personalization and options.
Megaships have capacities exceeding 3,000 passengers. They’re cities on the sea, with neighborhoods, a central plaza and diverse facilities. You could spend days exploring Royal Princess’ 16 passenger decks. These huge ships have extensive entertainment and activities tailored to different interests and age groups. From laser tag to wine tastings, you’ll never run out of things to do.
More passengers mean more restaurant choices and flexibility. On Regal Princess you can savor Italian, French, Japanese and steakhouse cuisine every night. Larger ships also tend to have more spacious balcony cabins and lavish suite options.
However, big ships come with some downsides. Embarkation and disembarkation can be lengthy ordeals as thousands of guests clear customs. Pool areas often fill up on sea days, and you’ll likely encounter lines at guest services and excursion desks. Ports of call that can't accommodate megaships mean anchoring offshore and tendering in.
Small ship devotees cite crowded megaships and long lines as dealbreakers. They prefer a cozier, less hectic ambiance. But those wanting endless entertainment, dining and activity choices may find smaller ships too limiting.
Many cruisers love mid-size ships for combining big ship amenities with a smaller ship vibe. Crown Princess at 3,080 guests offers specialty restaurants, nightclubs and a large spa while still feeling reasonably intimate.
Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Choose Your Onboard Activities
A cruise is so much more than just transportation between destinations. The days spent at sea offer opportunities to experience all sorts of fun activities, indulgent pampering, entertainment and more. With so many options, you’ll want to choose activities that align with your interests and personality.
Extroverts will thrive on activities that bring people together like karaoke nights, dance classes, mixology demonstrations and game shows like The Voice of the Ocean. If friendly competition is your style, join a volleyball, basketball or Ping-Pong tournament. For a more refined experience, afternoon tea, wine tastings and guest speaker lectures will keep you enriched and engaged.
Those wanting to unleash their creativity can take part in ceramics painting, lei making or scrapbooking classes. Other immersive activities include theme parties where you can dress up in vibrant Mardi Gras masks and costumes or a white party where everyone dons summery white outfits. For some low-key fun, see first-run movies at the outdoor theater or watch live music at a piano bar.
Fitness buffs will love putting Princess’ state-of-the-art gyms to use for cardio and strength training. And with gyms open 24/7, you can workout on your own schedule. Take advantage of Pilates reformer classes, yoga and Tai Chi on deck. For fresh air, walk or jog the Promenade track circling the ship. Aquatic activities range from stimulating circuit training classes in the pool to leisurely paddleboarding off the marina deck.
Seeking adventure? Learn stand up paddleboarding in the surf simulator or test your skill on the climbing wall. Other heart-pumping activities include laser tag battles, Skywalker bungee trampolining and a vertical drop waterslide called The Plunge. A variety of enriching seminars are also held onboard Princess ships, covering topics like digital photography, wine tasting, stargazing, healthy cooking demos and more.
Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Dining Options to Suit Your Tastes
Princess ships offer an array of dining choices to satisfy just about every craving. With up to four main dining rooms and an array of specialty venues, you’ll enjoy exceptional cuisine and excellent service tailored to your preferences.
The complimentary main dining rooms serve fresh, made-to-order dishes covering a wide range of cuisines. The typical cruise fare cuisine options are available, but Princess chefs put their own gourmet spin on them. You’ll savor elevated classics like seared salmon, chateaubriand and shrimp scampi. Vietnamese pho, Indian curries and Italian pastas reflect Princess’ global inspiration. And you can always satisfy comfort food cravings with options like barbeque ribs, pot roasts and macaroni and cheese.
Princess was an early innovator when it introduced Anytime Dining several years ago. This flexible option allows you to eat when and where you want for each meal. With Anytime Dining, making reservations or getting assigned an early dinner seating is unnecessary. Simply show up at whichever main dining room you want from 5:30 to 10 p.m. If you’re sailing with a big group or prefer a set schedule, Traditional Dining offers earlier or later seatings.
Specialty restaurants provide an intimate, upscale evening. Sterling Steakhouse serves premium aged beef and fresh seafood like lobster tails and Alaskan king crab legs. At Sabatini’s, the Italian menu highlights pasta made in-house daily and Northern Italian specialties. French haute cuisine is the star at Bayou Café & Steakhouse. For Japanese fare, Kai Sushi features sashimi, nigiri and specialty rolls.
Less formal options are plentiful too. The buffet restaurant Horizon Court offers comfort food stations, salad bars and made-to-order omelets for breakfast. The International Café serves sandwiches, salads and pastries from early morning through late night. Slice serves pizza by the pie or slice, with classic and creative topping combinations. Scoops ice cream parlor tempts with indulgent sundaes and homemade waffle cones.
Many Princess ships have al fresco dining venues for soaking up the sea air. The Wine Bar near the Piazza often hosts tapas nights. Off the main pool deck, you’ll find Nachos Cantina and Slice for grab-and-go bites. The SeaView Café in the lounge has grilled items and snacks. At the adults-only Sanctuary area, you can enjoy healthy smoothies and light fare.
Room service is available 24/7, so you can enjoy breakfast in bed or snacks delivered to your balcony. The menu offers sandwiches, flatbreads, wraps, salads and desserts. A $4 room service charge applies to each order.
Princess fosters special occasions with dining experiences like the Chef’s Table Lumiere. You’re welcomed into the galley for a Champagne reception and multi-course meal with the head chef. Your table overlooks the kitchen action through a glass partition. Course-by-course wine pairings complement the visually stunning dishes.
Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Decide on Cabin Type and Location
Your cabin will be your home away from home during the cruise, so it's worth considering what type and location best suits your needs. Princess offers an array of standard inside, oceanview and balcony cabins ranging from compact interior rooms to spacious suites. Picking the right one comes down to your budget, travel style and priorities.
Inside cabins start under $100 per person/day and are the most affordable way to cruise. But the trade-off is no window or outdoor space. Still, these roomy 220-square-foot cabins are comfortably furnished and a great value for budget-focused travelers. Oceanview cabins feature either a picture window or porthole view. Spending a bit more gets refreshing natural light and allows you to gaze out at passing scenery.
Most cruisers opt for a balcony room to fully immerse in sea views. Having your own private veranda makes the voyage idyllic as you breakfast al fresco or relax with ocean vistas. Watch spectacular sunsets, sunrises and port arrivals without leaving your room. Connecting family cabins with a shared balcony are perfect for togetherness.
Mini-suites take cruising to luxurious heights with amenities like sofa beds, two TVs and spacious bathrooms with massage shower heads. You’ll feel pampered in premium club class minis sporting VIP perks like priority embarkation. Full suites feel like your own seafaring apartment with separate living and sleeping areas. Unwind in the plush robes and slippers as your personal steward caters to your every need.
The ideal location depends on your priorities and sensitivities. To avoid motion, book midship rooms near the stability line. Lower decks tend to feel less rocking too. For quick pool access, choose cabins forward on the Lido Deck. Stairs are also at the ship’s center, so mid-level rooms minimize trips up and down. Those prone to seasickness should request a lower deck stateroom near the bow.
Night owls wanting to stay near the action without noise concerns should pick a spot between the bridge and central elevators. For a quiet retreat, aft rooms offer more privacy and smaller corridors. Higher decks also usually feel quieter and brighter versus lower, darker levels. If you have an early shore tour, avoid the very front or rear rooms farthest from exits.
Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Compare Itinerary Lengths
The duration of a cruise plays a big role in determining the overall experience. Princess sailings range from quick weekend getaways to epic world cruises spanning months. Itineraries are typically 7, 10, 14 or 28 days, though exotic destinations like Asia and South America offer some longer options.
Short cruises appeal to first-timers eager to test the waters without a big investment. Enhanced short sailings add an overnight stay in port, extending time to explore destinations like St. Petersburg or Barcelona. These 3-5 night sampler cruises give a taste of cruising while still fitting into busy schedules.
One-week cruises remain the most popular length, offering a nice mix of sea and port days. You'll have multiple days to unwind at sea along with visits to about three destinations. It's enough time to feel immersed in the cruising atmosphere without getting burnt out. Seven-day Caribbean itineraries are perfect for novices and families.
Ten-day cruises, like Princess' Scandinavia routes, provide a satisfying blend of leisure and cultural enrichment. The extra sea days mean more time to indulge in shipboard activities between exploring diverse ports of call. Ten days is ideal for deeper destination immersion but still easy for working travelers to take time off.
Two-week-long cruises are the sweet spot for travelers wanting equal sea and port time. A typical 14-day Alaska voyage includes seven days exploring glaciers and towns like Ketchikan and Skagway. The other seven days cruising the Inside Passage make for a relaxed yet stimulating itinerary. Similarly, 7 port days and 7 days at sea is common for Australasia and South Pacific sailings.
Month-long cruises offer the ultimate escape from reality. Spending 28-31 days cultivating friendships, learning new skills and crossing off bucket list sights makes for an unforgettable adventure. These extended sailings visit more remote regions like Australia and New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Africa that shorter cruises can't cover. You’ll gain a much deeper understanding of diverse cultures.
Veteran cruisers love the leisurely pace of month-long voyages. The extra sea days mean more time for shipboard indulgences like spa treatments and specialty dinners. But one downside is that unpacking four or five times to visit different ports can become tiresome.
Those new to Princess should stick to 7-14 day sailings to start. Month-long trips are better after you've experienced a few cruises and know you enjoy spending extended time onboard. Families with kids generally don't opt for longer cruises unless they’re homeschooled.
Retirees and remote workers have the flexibility for longer escapes of a month or more. Some even book back-to-back Princess cruises, like a Panama Canal transit coupled with a Caribbean sailing. Multi-week cruises through vast regions appeal to travelers prioritizing unique destinations over ship amenities.
Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Look at Ship Amenities
The amenities and facilities on a cruise ship play a huge role in keeping you entertained day and night. With Princess carrying between 680 to 3,560 passengers, the larger the ship, the more amenities offered onboard. But even Princess' smallest vessel boasts an array of perks to fill your time at sea with pleasure.
Princess' smallest ship, Pacific Princess at just 680 guests, still pampers cruisers with amenities like a spa, fitness center, casino and multiple lounges for socializing. Smaller ships provide a more intimate, boutique-style experience with subdued nightlife. But you'll still enjoy live musical performances, low-key bars, Movies Under the Stars and specialty dining.
On mid-size Princess ships, you’ll discover even more ways to stay busy and blissed out while cruising. Royal-class ships like Crown Princess have an expanded spa with hydrotherapy pools, aromatic steam rooms and a thermal suite with heated lounge chairs. After indulging in massages and facials, continue relaxing in The Sanctuary, an exclusive adults-only retreat. Retreat here to lounge in the whirlpools, cabanas and plush chaise loungers surrounded by serene ocean views.
Larger Princess ships truly unveil a plethora of possibilities for fun. The 3,560-guest Regal Princess has countless amenities spread across 19 decks. In addition to multiple pools, hot tubs and a swim-against-the-current river pool, Regal Princess houses a water and light show fountain. Kids and teens have their own spaces, from the Treehouse play area to The Beach House hangout spot. Adults enjoy exclusive access to The Retreat pool and lounge outfitted with posh, private cabanas.
After working up an appetite, recharge at one of Regal Princess’ five complimentary eateries and five specialty restaurants. Catch sports games or karaoke at the Wheelhouse Bar before trying your luck at the Vegas-style casino. Night owls flock to the Nightclub for dancing and live music into the wee hours. Stage shows, first-run movies and guest performers provide nonstop entertainment options.
For fitness freaks, state-of-the-art gyms are open 24/7, along with group classes for cycling, yoga, Pilates and more. Sweat it out in the basketball and tennis courts before cooling down in one of the bubbling whirlpools. Go for the gusto testing your skill on the rock climbing walls and surf simulators found on larger Princess ships. After an exhilarating day at port, treat yourself to rejuvenating massages, facials and body wraps in the Lotus Spa.
Your Perfect Princess: How to Choose the Princess Cruise That Fits Your Style - Don't Forget the Price Tag
With cruise fares varying greatly based on travel dates, itinerary, ship and more, the price tag can often make or break picking the perfect Princess cruise. While it’s enticing to book that bucket list world cruise, your budget realities may demand a more affordable Caribbean sailing. Weighing travel desires against financial constraints is key.
PrincessSegment their ships into price categories - Grand Class, Royal Class and Regal Class. The newer, larger ships like Regal Princess make up the higher end Regal Class. These splashy megaships with copious dining and amenities are priced at a premium. By comparison, older mid-size ships like Crown Princess fall under the cheaper Royal Class.
Itineraries also impact costs. Exotic sailings, extended voyages and cruises during peak periods like summer and holidays boost fares. A 7-day Eastern Caribbean trip typically starts under $700 per person, while a 14-day Scandinavia cruise may surpass $3,000. Global cruises lasting 30+ days ring in over $15,000 per guest. My philosophy - start with a short, low season Caribbean or Mexico sailing for your first Princess cruise. Alaska is also relatively affordable in May and September before peak season.
Booking last minute deals can secure significant savings, especially on underbooked sailings. But you run the risk of limited cabin selection. Inside or obstructed view rooms priced lower than balcony cabins can provide huge value for budget-focused cruisers. Just be sure you can live without an ocean view or balcony for a week or more!
One of my Mighty Travels Premium members raved about finding a Princess balcony stateroom for two priced lower than an interior room. The secret? Booking a handicap accessible cabin receiving a special promotion. It never hurts to call Princess and inquire about current sales.
Leveraging loyalty perks through Captain’s Circle provides nice savings too. New members start at Silver status for 5% off, with Gold (after completing one cruise) getting up to $100 onboard credit. After completing 30 Princess sailings, cruisers reach the top Platinum status with extra onboard discounts and complimentary specialty dining.
Groups like police officers, firefighters, nurses and military qualify for limited Princess Cruise Deals as a ‘thank you’ for their service. Princess is also very receptive to honeymooners, anniversaries and birthdays. Share your celebration with the cruise line ahead of time and you may be gifted sparkling wine and chocolate-dipped strawberries or breakfast in bed on your big day. It never hurts to kindly ask!