Penny was invited to spend the day on a Princess Cruise ship recently, complete with cocktail masterclass and flair show, kitchen tour and a three course menu designed by the Executive Head Chef. It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it…
Having previously cruised with Carnival, my first impression was that Princess Cruises must be for older, child free couples, but I soon realised I was thinking about it the wrong way. The ship was also about to make a transatlantic voyage and it was term time, so the people on board obviously weren’t going to be the family demographic.
I also quickly discovered with a Princess Cruise you really can have your cake and eat it as a parent. What if you don’t want to say goodbye to the quintessential luxury of a cruise ship, what if you love fine dining, what if you want a pampering, what if it is the destinations you visit that truly matter to you?
Princess Cruises has all those ‘what ifs’ covered, expect incredible food and drink, sail in the hands of ‘destination experts’, and make the most of some seriously impressive, well designed and educational childcare provision to facilitate some grown up time.
We started in the spa, it smelt glorious and offered chocolate treatments – need I say more? You can even hire a spa lounge for the day, for a full day of luxury. It is called the enclave, and it truly is a glittering, soothing cave of stunning treatment rooms and spa areas, with a character that is both in keeping with the luxury of the Princess brand, and something quite unique. The ship also has an adult only outdoor lounging area outdoors.
The top deck was a relaxing area with splash pools and jacuzzis. Some cruise ships can be very action packed, if you are looking for something calmer, Princess Cruises may be your line.
We propped up the large oval shaped bar and we were treated to a cocktail masterclass, our hosts really knew how to make impressive cocktails, and their moves were seriously cool too. From the Matrix to the Rainbow Martini, I haven’t seen anything quite like this before. Check out the video here.
With all the focus on adult luxury, food and drink I had half expected the childcare to be less well considered, but it was seriously impressive too. There are three childcare groups for different ages, and each room is really well designed and lavishly furnished. From the soft play and crayoning station looking out to sea, for the youngest, to the computer games, wildlife ranger visits and air hockey for pre teens to the very sophisticated lounge and deck space with hot tub for teenagers. Every area was light, spacious and incredibly well resourced. We will be interviewing a childcare expert form the team for our regular ‘Ask the Expert’ childcare feature, so do look out for that.
The tour of the kitchens was incredible, but more on that when I make the mind blowing Strawberry Gazpacho the head chef gave me the recipe for. An amazing thing to do for foodies on board is book a private dining experience at the chef’s table, it is reasonably priced too, given the chef makes a special menu just for you, comes out to introduce each course, plus you get the best table, which in one of the ship’s restaurants is surrounded by a magic curtain of fairy lights. It’s not suitable for younger children, but for older children who are budding gourmets this could be a magical experience of fine dining.
Just to give you a sneaky peak of what I sampled, here is the chef’s menu and pictures of the incredible meal. Princess Cruises pride themselves on the quality of their food, they make up to 20,000 meals a day on board, from scratch. It makes the mind boggle, but they absolutely maintain the quality and everything I tasted was an explosion of taste and the presentation is superb.
I also was brave enough to walk over the sky walk. See how tiny the people boarding the boat below are? I can’t imagine what this feels like when the ship sets sail, pretty thrilling.
It was a sad moment when I had to step off and return to everyday life. There is something about setting foot on a cruise ship, and a ship as luxurious as this, that makes my heart beat faster.
Penny was a guest of Princess Cruises, find out more about their cruises here.