Travel tips: Massive cruise ship presents an ocean of decisions

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Heading on a cruise? It is really critical to e-book ahead for some on-board features.

Some cruisers go significant and some desire small, while many others, like myself, are not certain at all.

On a current Caribbean cruise, I found the selection was created for me, immediately after my greatest close friend and her household invited me to join them on a cruise ship with a passenger ability of more than 3,000 people.

I hadn’t been on a significant cruise ship considering the fact that 2013 and, in all honesty, I could not say for selected irrespective of whether heading major was some thing I’d appreciate again because all of my cruises in the earlier decade had been on little ships ranging from a several hundred people today for river cruises to oceanoing cruise lines where figures under no circumstances exceeded more than 920 visitors.

Cruising on a ship triple the dimensions I’m made use of to appeared complicated, even in this period of mega cruise ships currently being the measurement of smaller metropolitan areas. The a short while ago launched Royal Caribbean’s “Icon of the Seas,” the world’s biggest cruise ship with a greatest potential of 7,600 travellers, just concluded her inaugural voyage in the Caribbean just after environment sail from Miami Jan. 27.

Whilst my cruise day ultimately did not line up with my friend’s scheduled Caribbean cruise, I did conclude up on a huge ship — Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess which had 3,140 travellers on board and a crew of 1,200. The preferred cruise line has a fleet of 15 ships, with the smallest acquiring a 2,000 passenger potential and the major 3,660.

My eldest daughter and I were being about to get a flavor of substantial cruise ship vacation when we took a a single-week Caribbean cruise, with stops in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico, that also began Jan. 27.

In actuality, we noticed the Icon of the Seas, which was simple to location on my shuttle trip to Fort Lauderdale’s cruise ship port where by the Caribbean Princess was berthed. The travel involving Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s two key cruise ship terminals, is just 30 minutes so it was an easy alternative for me to pick a wintertime cruise from one particular of these ports, primarily now that Vancouver and Miami has immediate flights less than 7 hrs.

On the shuttle journey, I met a few from Qualicum Beach front who ended up cruise ship travel veterans, obtaining previously received their medallion go to bypass the extensive lineup and head straight on board the ship.

Regardless of my rookie get started, acquiring to be part of the queue to get my medallion, I uncovered Princess Cruises was professional in relocating anyone along swiftly. In 50 % an hour, my daughter and I had been on board discovering the ships’ lots of decks, amenities and settling into our cabin. Even though we ended up both equally essentially rookies to big cruising, we now have a far better thought of how to get the most from big ship cruising.

Here’s what we uncovered.

SHIP Features

My principal hesitation was the ship would be so crowded we would by no means get to completely take pleasure in all of its amenities. I couldn’t have been extra improper, considering that the ship is spacious and has so significantly to do on board, it never ever felt far too occupied. Even finding a lounge chair adjacent to one of the ship’s 3 pools did not verify tricky, and we did not have to get up early in the early morning to stake a claim.

We discovered the grown ups-only pool usually had home and, to make sure we had a lounger on a “sea working day,” reserving room in The Sanctuary was surely worthy of the price tag. This quiet oasis is adjacent to the ship’s Lotus Spa and options a tiny pool and two sizzling tubs. For just $20 US for a half-day pass or $40 US for a full-day move, you can decide on your have spot to hold out in The Sanctuary.

We opted for a cozy, swivel palm-formed lounger we could share, that furnished overhead shade and was close to the pool. It was effectively well worth the price tag and apart from the assured seating, we have been amazed by the “serenity stewards” who introduced us delectable sandwiches, desserts and drinks. My greatest suggestions is to go immediately to The Sanctuary as before long as you board to reserve your time in this article since these places ebook up rapidly, particularly on “sea days” when all friends keep on being on the ship as an alternative of docking and heading out for excursions.

Besides the swimming pools there’s also an outdoor theatre named Films below the Stars, a Lotus Spa and Conditioning Centre, casino, a sports activities deck where you can golf putt or engage in basketball, a nightclub, bars, lounges, library and an net cafe, to title some of the highlights.


When it arrives to dining, a large cruise ship presents quite a few options for travellers.

On the Caribbean Princess there are three principal dining rooms, all providing the same 4-class meal menu or you can try to eat at the buffet identified as Globe Clean Market Cafe. I did not intellect going to the cafe for breakfast or lunch but I favor formal seating for supper and the foods decisions in just one of the ship’s dining rooms.  If you prefer a private table as an alternative of team seating be absolutely sure to book early possibly prior to the excursion or immediately immediately after boarding.

There are also specialty restaurants (my favorite was the Crown Grill, a steakhouse that also had scrumptious seafood) and at the very least as soon as for each sailing, a lucky 12 to 15 friends have the chance to eat at the Chef’s Desk.

Whilst I met a lot of fellow travellers who informed me they ended up much more than content with the meals on board, so they didn’t need to spend excess for specialty dining establishments, I felt they certainly missed out. Specifically the Chef’s Table, which is a pinnacle gastronomical cruise experience, showcasing the very best of what the chef and his workers generate. At the time of my sailing, it expense $110 US which include wine, although the Crown Grill was $39 US.

Foodie and fellow traveller Jim Augustine from Bradenton, Florida, tells me whilst his favourite specialty cafe is Sabatini’s, which specializes in a five-class Italian cuisine, he usually tries to get a place at The Chef’s Desk on each cruise he takes.

I satisfied Augustine, who has taken over 20 cruises to date, at The Chef’s Table, exactly where he admits he was well prepared to terminate his cruise if his travel agent wasn’t capable to secure his place among the the blessed 15 who received to knowledge The Chef’s Desk on our sailing.

“It’s these kinds of a amazing party. The foods and wine is generally fantastic and you fulfill this kind of intriguing persons. You get to meet the head chef, the director of places to eat operations, the maitre-d’ reveals up and it’s constantly very good to know the maitre-d’, trust me. Because when you come again and he acknowledges you, the red carpet is rolled out and you are invited to points and demonstrated to superior tables,” he says.

“Yes, the food is a minimize far better but it’s the pageantry, and the tour of the galley. If you have in no way been in a galley on a ship when they are serving a meal you really don’t know what a ballet is. Everything is in movement, everybody’s in movement and how they feed that many hundreds of cruisers three or four and in some circumstances 5 times a day, you truly need to be in a galley to see what it’s all about.”


Entertainment on a big ship is boundless, with alternatives for all ages and tastes and the efficiency level at a increased regular than what I expected. On this certain cruise, viewers associates were being brought to tears by a effectiveness tribute to Whitney Houston by singer Cheaza Figueroa, from Las Vegas. Her talent certainly ran in the household considering that her mom was one particular of the legendary Ikette’s from the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

We ended up also amazed by the Caribbean Princess’s seven-piece band that backed her up as properly as the dancers and singers who did huge stage productions. I also savored viewing passengers, a lucky couple who received to play “Deal or No Deal” and consider for a $1,000 grand prize as perfectly as catching as many performances as I could of the team named Symphonee, who performed almost everything from the blues to hits from the 1970s. Since there is equally an early and afterwards functionality of all the big acts, acquiring seating was under no circumstances an situation in the indoor theatre.

Kim Pemberton was hosted by Princess Cruises, which did not critique or approve this story. Comply with her on Instagram at kimstravelogue.