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August 26, 2014

The Princess Cruises “Fifth Annual Relaxation Report” & the Unique Small-Ship Experiences

Pacific Princess & Ocean Princess  offer on Voyages to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Hawaiian Islands!

Win an AmaWaterways Christmas Markets Cruise- Enter Soon!

Have you entered the AMA WATERWAYS Contest Yet?
Talk about CruiseCompete on social media, and you’ll be entered to win a 2014 AmaWaterways Christmas on the Rhine cruise!
Winner chooses one 7-night cruise from departures listed below
2014 Christmas On the Rhine

  • November 24, AmaCerto, Basel-Amsterdam
  • December 14, AmaReina, Basel-Amsterdam
  • December 15, AmaCerto, Amsterdam-Basel

Cruise line of the Week- Princess Cruises

Vintage Offerings of Champagne & Canapés for Guests.  Back in “the old days” of cruising, friends and family were allowed to come aboard with passengers, perhaps to share some champagne and small treats before the sailing time. That sweet custom ended, but Princess revived it with the “Bon Voyage” experience, which allows guests to come aboard for a tour and lunch with wine. The package, which runs about four hours, costs $39 and is a nice way to share the cruise experience. (And if any guests decide to take a cruise after sampling the experience, that $39 can be applied to the price.)

Some of you might remember the television show “The Love Boat”. If so, it was perhaps your first look at this line.  Princess’ ship, the Pacific Princess, was the original Love Boat!
Princess is one of the overall best lines to consider for your next cruise.  We’ll be focusing on them this week because they have a variety of options, amenities, and activities that make them among the frontrunners for almost any cruise vacation.

The mid-size and big ships are best for couples, families, multi-generational groups and singles who enjoy an active environment and want many itinerary choices. For mature travelers who want a small-ship experience with few children, longer itineraries and off-the-beaten path ports, the Ocean Princess and Pacific Princess are good choices.

The ships of Princess Cruises:
  • Caribbean Princess (3,080 passengers)
  • Coral Princess (1,970 passengers)
  • Crown Princess (3,080 passengers)
  • Dawn Princess (2,000 passengers)
  • Diamond Princess (2,670 passengers)
  • Emerald Princess (1800 passengers)
  • Golden Princess (2,600 passengers)
  • Grand Princess (2,590 passengers)
  • Island Princess (1,970 passengers)
  • Ocean Princess (680 passengers)
  • Pacific Princess (680 passengers)
  • Regal Princess (3,600 passengers) (Launching Spring 2014)
  • Royal Princess (3,600 passengers)
  • Ruby Princess (3,100 passengers)
  • Sapphire Princess (2,670 passengers)
  • Sea Princess (1,950 / 2,010 passengers)
  • Star Princess (2,600 passengers)
  • Sun Princess (2,020 passengers)
Atmosphere and experience onboard:
A good slogan for Princess might be: “Have it Your Way,” for the line has a fleet of different style ships, sails itineraries all over the world -- and successfully blends traditional cruise elements with more modern amenities.

For example, the line has set seating – and also offers “Anytime Dining.” The entertainment mix includes traditional Vegas-style revues, talent shows and comedians -- and also the newer “Movies Under the Stars.”
The dining mix (varies by ship) might include a New Orleans-style café or an Italian restaurant. The three-deck Piazza, a relatively new feature that’s being expanded to older ships, includes a 24-hour café, a wine bar and Alfredo’s pizza, as well as shops and a performance venue.

Princess ships have casinos, nightclubs, discos and kids’ clubs. All have Lotus spas and fitness centers that offer yoga and other classes. Some spas feature alternative therapies like acupuncture; the newer ones have such medi-spa options like Botox and other fillers. Depending on the ship, activities might include art auctions and all kinds of classes (some carry a fee): computer technology, photography, ceramics or cooking.

The newest (Royal Class) ships have expanded Piazzas, SeaWalks (glass-enclosed walkway) and Princess Live! (Interactive TV studio).

Princess cruises include both formal nights (one for seven-to-13-night trips) and smart casual nights. Formal means a tuxedo or dark suit for men and gowns, cocktail dresses or fancy pants suit for women. Smart Casual means pants and open neck shirts for men and dresses; skirts or slacks and sweaters or blouses for women. T shirts, shorts and halter tops are not allowed in the dining. Shoes must be worn in the dining rooms.

Destinations served:
  • Alaska
  • Asia, India, and Africa
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • California Coastal
  • Canada and New England
  • Caribbean
  • Europe
  • Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific
  • Mexico
  • Panama Canal
  • South America
  • World Cruise
Depending on the ship, fellow passengers can include family groups, couples, singles or mature travelers. On the big or mid-size ships, you’ll find the broadest mix. The two smaller ships – Ocean Princess and Pacific Princess – have fewer features that appeal to families and sail longer itineraries to more exotic ports, so they attract older travelers.

Policies regarding children onboard:
The minimum passenger age is 6 months on Alaska, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, Trans-canal and Australia/New Zealand cruises, and 12 months on all other cruises, including transatlantic and transpacific itineraries.

Children under the age of 3 are welcome to visit the Youth Center, if accompanied and supervised by a parent at all times.
All vessels, with the exception of the Ocean and Pacific Princess, have dedicated Youth Centers and Teen Lounges. These two vessels offer youth programs when 20 or more children, ages 3-17, are traveling on a given voyage. Children under the age of 3 are welcome to visit the Youth Center, if accompanied and supervised by a parent at all times.

Unique Small-Ship Sailing Experiences to Tahiti & Polynesia, Ireland, Scotland & Wales and the Hawaiian Islands aboard the Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess

Small-ship and niche cruising lines are currently in vogue due to all the wonderfully unique experiences they provide. If you love Princess Cruises, as many cruisers do, they also offer a small-ship experience on two of their ships, the Pacific Princess and the Ocean Princess.

Unlike Princess’s other ships, which have passenger capacities in the thousands, these two ships carry around 680 mostly adult passengers and feature a casual elegance and wonderful sense of camaraderie that is the hallmark of small ship cruising.

The Ocean Princess and Pacific Princess joined the Princess Cruises’ fleet in 2002 and 2003, respectively, and have both had recent refurbishments. As such, the offerings onboard are virtually identical. While the ships are small, they certainly don’t skip on amenities; both ships feature a variety of well-equipped cabins and suites (that range from 158 to 932 square feet, depending on your choice), a spa and an abundance of dining and entertainment venues.

These two ships also present a unique offering in the cruising sector; that is, the amenities of larger ships (developed by a large cruise line) combined with the many benefits of small ships.

What makes small-ship cruising so desirable? Here are five reasons to love a Princess Cruises small-ship cruising experience:

1.  Smaller ships provide a unique blend of adventure and culture. These two Princess ships can gain access to smaller ports where the line’s larger vessels cannot dock. Consequently, passengers can visit more remote areas, gaining a more balanced feel for the true culture of the region, away from tourist-heavy areas and crowds.

2.  Smaller ships visit exotic destinations due to their smaller size and agility.
These ships visit Tahiti & Polynesia, Ireland, Scotland & Wales and the Hawaiian Islands. Want a more traditional Princess sailing vacation? They also visit favorites like Alaska and the Mediterranean and take short Pacific Coast cruises.

3. Small ships attract an uncommonly interesting group of people. Quite simply, you will meet, talk and explore with like-minded, exceptional people who desire a true adventure. The people who choose this type of voyage are not ordinary … they investigate the world through travel, culture and adventure.

4.  There are several very special deals right now for the Ocean Princess & Pacific Princess, starting at just $149 per night, per person, double occupancy.

Here are some examples:
Princess Cruises Ocean Princess 
7 Night Eastern Mediterranean, Athens to Rome
Departing: Oct. 26, 2014
Ports of Call: Piraeus (Athens), Greece; Aghios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece; Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; Santorini (Thira), Greece; Ayia Napa, Greece; Itea, Greece; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
Pricing: From $1499 per person, double occupancy for an inside cabin
To see all deals for Ocean Princess, please click here:

Princess Cruises Pacific Princess:
10 Night South Pacific, Round trip Papeete, Tahiti
Departing: Oct. 29, 2014
Ports of Call: Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia; Huahine, French Polynesia; Rangiroa, Tahiti; Raiatea, French Polynesia; Bora Bora, French Polynesia; Bora Bora, French Polynesia; Moorea, French Polynesia; Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Pricing: From $1499 per person, double occupancy for an inside cabin
To see all deals for Pacific Princess, please click here:

To see reviews of the Ocean Princess & Pacific Princess, please click here:

5.  Shore excursions have a particularly intimate and “made-to-order” feel. While offerings may be more limited, shore excursions will be more personalized due to smaller group sizes. Plus, in more remote areas, guides tend to take a special pride in introducing the hidden gems and nuances of their region to visitors.

To see shore excursions by ship please click here:

To find out more information about these unusual Princess Cruises small ships, or to book a cruise, please visit

Shore Excursions for Princess Cruises Sailings:

Shore excursions by port:
Princess Cruise Ship Reviews:

Super Cruise Specials
$941 Last Minute FL Resident Promotion Disney Cruise w/ shipboard credit.
Disney Magic, Disney Cruise Line - Southern Caribbean

$2,750 Free Airfare Viking River Cruise
Viking Njord, Viking River Cruises - Europe

$650 Last Minute Deal MSC Divina w/shipboard credit.
MSC Divina, MSC Cruises - Bahamas

$19,854 HAL Amsterdam World Cruise Promotion
Amsterdam, Holland America Line - Mediterranean

$769 Allure of the Seas from $769 PLUS onboard credit!
Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International - Eastern Caribbean

$2,949 10 Night Atlantic Coastal Cruise from $2949!
Oceania Regatta, Oceania Cruises - North America

$579 Sail on the Carnival Dream from $579 PLUS Onboard Credit!
Carnival Dream, Carnival Cruise Lines - Eastern Caribbean

$949 Complimentary Beverage Package & Onboard Credit!
Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Cruises - Eastern Caribbean

$961 7 NT Alaska from $ 961 PP Get onboard the south bound cruise now
Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Cruise Line - Alaska

$787 Christmas Holiday!
Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line - Western Caribbean
To see more super cruise specials click here.

Recent News from Princess Cruises:

Princess Cruises: Princess Cruises is keeping summer alive with savings on more than 150 cruise vacations to sunny destinations such as the Caribbean, Tahiti, Hawaii, Panama Canal and Mexico. The “Endless Summer Sale,” which runs through September 10, offers guests the chance to save up to $1,400 on select cruises departing between November 2014 and February 2015. For more information click here.
Princess Cruises introduces regional menus showcasing destination specialties. When the new Regal Princess sails into Florida this November to begin her maiden Caribbean cruise season, she will debut a new Princess Cruises dining program that will showcase regional culinary specialties designed to reflect the destinations its ships visit around the world. The new program will enable guests to enjoy regional menu items created with local produce, spices and seafood. The first special menus are inspired by the Caribbean in keeping with the ship’s fall itineraries. The regional cruise ship menus will eventually roll out across the fleet, and will include culinary specialties from an array of vacation destinations including the Mediterranean, Alaska and Hawaii.  More…

Have you heard about the new Princess Cruises Chocolate Journeys? It’s hardly a rarity; almost everyone loves chocolate, in one form or another.  With this thought in mind, Princess Cruises has partnered with chocolatier Norman Love to bring their guests a series of unique onboard experiences.  Their new program will introduce special desserts, chocolate and wine pairings (a personal favorite of mine) and a very distinctive option: chocolate spa treatment.  More…

Princess Cruises to add new ship to fleet.  The as-yet unnamed 143,000-ton vessel, which will be built at an all-in cost of approximately 600 million euros, will carry 3,560 passengers, and feature the successful design platform introduced by sister ships Royal Princess in 2013 and Regal Princess which entered service this past May. The new ship will include the signature elements that have become synonymous with the Princess Cruises guest experience such as a soaring central atrium hub with multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues; the adults-only Sanctuary; Movies Under the Stars cinema experience, and 80 percent of all staterooms with balconies. The ship will also include some brand-new innovations to enhance the guest experience even further.  More…
2015-2016 Exotics Sailings From Princess Cruises: Attention world travelers! Princess Cruises has provided information on their exotics sailings… 40 itineraries, to 140 destinations in 70 countries, on six continents.  More…

Princess Cruises’ Annual Relaxation Report: Ask almost anyone the reasons for their upcoming vacation, and you’ll invariably find “relaxation” among the top responses.  We’re constantly searching for ways to unwind and improve our physical and mental well-being.  Princess Cruises releases an annual report on whether American’s are succeeding in this pursuit- and the answer, unsurprisingly, is no.  “Despite that an overwhelming 99% of Americans agree that relaxation is essential for their overall health and well-being, on average Americans spend only an hour a day dedicated to unwinding.” says Princess.  More…

Blogs about the Princess Cruise Experience:

Gerry Barker: Diary of Cruise aboard the Royal Princess- This cruise marks several firsts for us: Our first cruise on a Princess ship, and our first holiday voyage. We opted for a seven-day Eastern Caribbean
excursion in lieu of the traditional Thanksgiving celebration. For once, we’ll relax and let someone else do the cooking and cleaning.  More…

Cynthia Boal Janssens: Diary of transatlantic crossing aboard the Emerald Princess- It is always exciting preparing for a cruise and I am in that process now. We are going to sail on a repositioning cruise of the Emerald Princess, from Copenhagen to Ft. Lauderdale, beginning Sept. 11. We only booked the cruise a couple of weeks ago so we have been busy firming up the details.  More…

Kimberly Button: Diary of Mediterranean cruise aboard the Royal Princess- The world took notice when the Royal Princess was christened on June 13, 2013. While frequent cruisers were anxious to discover the newest industry innovations debuting on Princess Cruise Lines’ brand new ship (the first in five years), there was another noteworthy occurrence on that day. As the Royal Princess’ godmother, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge (otherwise known as Kate Middleton to all of us before she got the fancy title) christened the ship in her last official public appearance before giving birth to Prince George Alexander Louis.  More…

More Blogs From Our Featured Travel Writers:

Cindy Boal Janssens sails on the new Scenic Jade river ship on the Danube from Nuremburg to Budapest. Read her reports.

Jackie Finch makes her first trip to Greece on the Louis Cristal. Read her impressions here.

Welcome Len Kaufman as ATC's featured cruise videographer. View his exciting videos here.

New ATC blogger David G. Houser sails on the small ship Independence with American Cruise Lines.

Robert W. Bone is sailing from Quebec City to Boston on HAL's Veendam. Read his travel diary.

Julie Hatfield embarks on an Adriatric Odyssey aboard the Panorama. Follow her here.

Marcia Levin travels on European Waterways's L'Impressioniste barge in Southern Burgundy. Read her reports here.

Gerry Barker goes on a concert cruise with Carnival. See if he likes it!
More Information About the Lines:

Everything you need to know about the various cruise lines and their ships:

Which lines are all-inclusive? What do the lines offer to keep your experience over the top?
Time Sensitive Deals from the CruiseCompete Blog:

AmaWaterways: AmaWaterways offering unique Christmas and New Year's itineraries. For details and pricing, click here.

American Queen Steamboat Company: American Queen Steamboat Company is offering 2 for 1 cruise fares on select 2014 Pacific Northwest sailings aboard the American Empress. This offer expires October 31, 2014 so book now. For sailing dates and details click here.

Avalon Waterways: Save $1000 per couple on select 2015 Avalon Waterways Europe river cruises. Booking must be made, under deposit, and discount applied between May 7 and September 30, 2014 for travel at select times in 2015.For details click here.

Avalon Waterways: For a limited time Avalon Waterways is offering savings of up to $3,560 per couple on select Mekong River Cruise departures. This offer expires September 30, 2014. For more information click here. .
Oceania Cruises: Ever dream of a world cruise. Oceania Cruises is offering a special promotion on their Around the World in 180 Days sailing that depart January 4, 2016 aboard the Insignia. Fares are in U.S. dollars and subject to increase on 11/1/2014. For details click here.

Oceania Cruises:  Oceania is offering 2 for 1 cruise fares plus free air fare on their top 11 most popular voyages from around the globe. Fares are in U.S. dollars and subject to increase on 9/3/2014. For details click here.

Oceania Cruises: Oceania Cruises is offering fare reductions along with 2 for 1 cruise fares plus free airfare on their Tropical Breeze Caribbean and Fall Foliage cruises. Fares are subject to increase on 9/3/2014. For more information click here.

Princess Cruises: Princess Cruises is keeping summer alive with savings on more than 150 cruise vacations to sunny destinations such as the Caribbean, Tahiti, Hawaii, Panama Canal and Mexico. The “Endless Summer Sale,” which runs through September 10, offers guests the chance to save up to $1,400 on select cruises departing between November 2014 and February 2015. For more information click here.

Royal Caribbean International: Book your next Royal Caribbean Cruise before September 15, 2014 and choose from 3 great offers on select sailings-Buy one get second guest 50% off, Friends and family sail free, or $1000 off when booking choice air. For more information click here.

Seabourn Cruise Line: For a limited time Seabourn is offering veranda upgrades on select exotic voyage sailings. For sailings and details click here.

Star Clippers: For a limited time Star Clippers is offering Free Air and Taxes Included at rates from $1,993 on select Caribbean sailings. For sailing dates and details click here.

Un-Cruise Adventures: Un-Cruise Adventures offers adventure savings On Mexico’s Sea of Cortés Cruise. Book a winter cruise vacation by Sept. 30, 2014. For details click here.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is offering special savings on their 2015 15 Day "European Jewels" departures aboard their new SS Maria Theresa. Pay in full at the time of booking and couples can save up to $1,800 when they make their reservation before October 31, 2014 or couples save $600 with a deposit at time of reservation when booked by January 15, 2015. For details click here.

To see more deals from the CruiseCompete blog, click here.

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