A Glimpse into 10 Sea Days Onboard Pacific Princess
On this Transatlantic crossing, we spent 10 Sea Days onboard the Pacific Princess, one of the small ships of the Princess Fleet. With a passenger load of approximately 650, and a crew complement of approximately 350, the ship is one of the smallest we have ever sailed, but really offers most everything that the larger ships have, just in a smaller scale. Docked next to the P&O Azura in Gibraltar, we seemed exceptionally tiny, but once onboard, the differences become minor.
There are four passenger decks (4, 6, 7, & 8) and three activity/dining/service decks (5, 9, & 10). The Club Restaurant (Deck 5 Aft) offers the traditional and late sitting (6:00pm and 8:15pm) dining experience passengers have come to expect from any Princess ship, along with two specialty restaurants (Steakhouse and Sabatini’s on Deck 10 Aft) that alternate their offerings each evening. The Panorama Buffet (Deck 9 Aft) offers full Breakfast (including an Omelet station), Lunch, and Evening Bistro service, along with the BBQ Grill, Pizzeria, and 24 Hour Room Service. Missing from the dining options (and not terribly missed) included the Anytime Ice Cream Bar (though ice cream was available on every menu every day), Sushi Bar (available during the Asian Lunch Buffet on one Sea Day), and Anytime Dining for Dinner in the main restaurant (Anytime Bistro dining was available in the Panorama Buffet as a very reasonable alternative.) Also, the larger ship venues like Vines (Wine Bar), Tapas Bar, and the International Cafe just can’t fit into the limited available space, but they’re simply not needed, given the light passenger load…
In terms of passenger services, the small ship lacked none of the key requirements, with a very capable and professional passenger services desk (available 24 hours a day), shore excursions desk, and a combined Captain’s Club and Future Cruise Host available every day of the cruise.
Shopping and other services onboard matched all other Princess ships (albeit at smaller scale). The internet cafe had 8 stations and an internet manager available every day of the itinerary. There were shops and boutiques onboard, though the selection and availability was much more limited than on larger ships. The Spa and Fitness area was a good size, offered all of the standard Spa and Salon offerings (No Thermal Suites onboard, though). The Casino was TINY, with just a few dozen slots and about 6 table games, but served the passengers needs to “make their donations.” Bars and lounges were adequate in size, offered great musical entertainers, and were tucked into all the right places, without seeming too overwhelming in any one location (this can actually be a problem on some of the larger ships). There was even an art program onboard, though it is being discontinued on the smaller ships (Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess) at the end of 2012.
The entertainment and activities offered onboard was solid all the way around, with great musical performances, singers, instrumentalists, a ventriloquist, and a small, but solid troupe of Princess Singers and Dancers. This group also performed double duty, supporting the Cruise Director Staff for onboard activities including Bingo, Trivia, onboard games, and ballroom and line dancing classes, amongst others. There was a strong Scholarship@Sea program with multiple tracks: a port lecturer, Bridge leader, and a great Arts and Crafts program offered every single sea day! Couple this with a wide variety of 2nd run movies in the lounges and on the stateroom television and there was little to be missed. One huge highlight of the ship was its sizeable and exceptionally comfortable library.
Throw in a walking track, a swimming pool, three hot tubs, and two decks of sun loungers and deck tables, and you have “The Little Ship that Could”, providing an exceptional onboard experience that you expect from Princess… Just in a smaller package.
The service from the staff and crew was simply over the top… The Pacific Princess Officers, staff, and crew are a small but extended family that have a ton of experience to extend the very best in professionalism and personal touches to make the experience one that will not be forgotten.
We welcome the chance to return to small ship cruising with Princess (or any Princess ship) whenever the opportunity, itinerary, and time allow!