Princess Cruises’ latest ship Majestic Princess launched this week. Cruise International Contributing Editor Julie Peasgood was on board to take a first look and give her verdict
I blame Dr Breus – it’s all his fault. The world-renowned sleep doctor has partnered with Princess Cruises to create the best night’s sleep at sea, and by my reckoning he’s succeeded. With bells on.
Yes, I did sleep through my clock’s piercing alarm (a first) and then sacrificed breakfast (unheard of) in favour of snuggling down for an extra 20 minutes. The good news is that Michael Breus’ Science of Sleep mattress is soon going to be gracing every bed in the entire Princess Cruises fleet, not just those on Majestic Princess. And, even better, they’ll be available for purchase in the not too distant future.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Majestic Princess, this wonderful, brand new colossus of a ship will be based in China as of May 2017 and only sold to the Chinese market, so if you want to sample its many delights I’m afraid you’ll have to fly to China and book cruises there. (Having said that, there is still availability on Majestic Princess for sailings up until May 2017 – so a great opportunity if you’re able to move quickly.)
All of which makes me feel very privileged to have sailed on Majestic Princess’ maiden voyage, with a send-off from Trieste like I have never seen before. The fact that Trieste is Captain Dino Sagani’s home town meant that thousands of proud Italians lined the port for our sail-away, waving and cheering as the daytime fireworks crackled in the sky and non-stop entertainment kept Deck 17 buzzing until nightfall.
A Royal-class ship, Majestic Princess has many of the features of its sister ships, Royal Princess and Regal Princess, but with some judicious tweaks to cater for Chinese guests. The World Fresh Marketplace is now the top deck buffet, with Michelin-starred chefs creating menus in Harmony and La Mer, two new speciality restaurants.
The customary poolside pizzeria is replaced by the Noodle bar, with lobster and dim sum welcome additions to the nearby Grill. And alongside the coffee bars is Gong Cha, serving an array of bubble teas (oddly satisfying sucking up shiny black pearls of tapioca through an outsize straw). It’s also interesting to note that everything is freshly cooked and created onboard – nothing is frozen or pre-made onshore – quite a feat considering 36,000 meals are served daily.
There are VIP and even VVIP casinos, plus the Vista Gaming Lounge (the Chinese are particularly fond of Baccarat and Mahjong) or you can shop to your heart’s delight in the onboard shops – at 11,000 square feet the highest allocation of retail space at sea and awash with top brand names.
Princess Cruises signature favourites such as the SeaWalk, Lotus Spa, and Movies under the stars are still crowd-pullers, or you can dance the night away in the Hollywood Pool Club (which also sports private cabanas for daytime relaxation). But my favourite venue has to be the six new Sing on the Sea karaoke bars. I’m practically tone-deaf but couldn’t resist joining in (they are all mercifully private) and it’s some of the best fun I have ever had – at sea or on land.