By GERRY BARKER’
Holiday cruises have become something of a tradition for Pam and I. Our small family is scattered around the country, and going on a cruise is our chosen way to celebrate. And let’s be honest: Dispensing with the cooking and clean-up isn’t a bad thing.
We obviously weren’t the only ones with the same idea: Our ship, Sky Princess, was sailing at 100 percent capacity out of Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale., with many guests doing “back-to-back” seven-day cruises.
So we spent Thanksgiving week visiting Cozumel, Roatan, Belize and Costa Maya. It’s been several years since we cruised on Princess, so we were interested to discover what one of their Royal-class ships had to offer. Here are 10 things we loved about the ship:
1. The OCEAN Medallion
About the size of a quarter, the OCEAN Medallion takes the place of your keycard. It automatically opens your stateroom door, takes care of your reservations and no doubt has a lot more functionality we didn’t use. You wear it around your neck on a lanyard or can buy wrist bands or other accessories. We love technology when it works, and this works.
2. Take Five.
We love jazz music, and finding a place that caters to jazz fans is no small feat in South Florida, where we live. So when we discovered Take Five on deck six, this quickly became our “go-to” place before and after the shows. The dark vibe and plush seats, along with a great bar that keeps the martinis coming, is the perfect place to unwind and chill.
The show 5-Skies, where our hero battles through a video game come to life, is a technological tour de force, combining amazing production, virtual reality and acrobatics to dazzling effect.
4. The Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is an adults-only retreat on deck 18 forward. You reserve a spot in advance (there is an extra charge) and once inside, enjoy light snacks and drinks while you watch the waves go by in one of their loungers. There are also hot tubs available. Guaranteed to take you far from the madding crowd.
5. The SeaWalk.
Venture out on this glass-bottom walkway 16 decks over the ocean. If you have a fear of heights, this may not be for you. (Video by Gerry Barker)
6. Cinema Under the Stars.
It’s like a drive-in without the cars. Instead, get a lounge chair and a blanket and enjoy watching movies under the stars. There’s even pizza by the slice and Swirl ice cream close-by. You’re all set.
7. A Laundromat.
It may not be glamorous, but having a laundromat on board can sure come in handy when the clean clothes start to disappear. Just pay with your OCEAN medallion. It couldn’t be easier.
8. Afternoon Tea
Pam love the British tradition of Afternoon Tea, and most days you can enjoy it in one of the main dining rooms or in this case, in The Sanctuary. Scones and Earl Grey, anyone?
9. Alfredo’s Pizzeria.
You can find Alfredo’s Pizzeria on deck 7 by the central atrium. Just look for the line waiting to get in. A restaurant that’s included with your fare, it offers great service and great food — always a good combination.
10. The Love Boat.
Many remember of the hit TV sitcom from the Seventies that ran for 10 seasons — “The Love Boat.” It was based on Princess ships, and is widely credited with bringing millions to try cruise vacations. Princess keeps that alive by selling fashions and accessories, showing reruns on your stateroom TV and even playing the theme song on the ship’s horns when leaving a port. Pretty cool.