Fodor’s Expert Review

Cruise StylePremium
Ship SizeLarge

Princess Cruises may be best known for introducing cruise travel to millions of viewers, when its flagship became the setting for The Love Boat television series in 1977. Since that heady time of small-screen stardom, the Princess fleet has grown both in the number and size of ships. Although most are large in scale, Princess vessels manage to create the illusion of intimacy through the use of color and decor in understated yet lovely public rooms graced by multimillion-dollar art collections.Read More

Princess has also become more flexible; Personal Choice Cruising offers alternatives for open seating dining (when you wish and with whom you please) and entertainment options as diverse as those found in resorts ashore.

Lovely chapels or the wide-open decks are romantic settings for weddings at sea with the captain officiating.

Top Reasons to Cruise

Accessibility.Princess is a top choice for travelers with disabilities because the ships and even shore excursions offer more choices for them.
Movies Under the Stars.An innovative feature copied by other cruise lines, Princess was the first line to offer movies and other programming on giant poolside LED screens.
Relaxation.Ships in the Princess fleet feature another cruise industry first—The Sanctuary, where adults can get away from it all, has become a signature element imitated by many other lines.
Sophistication.Princess Cruises’ ships range from midsize to megaship, but all have a sophisticated ambience.
Weddings.Noted as the “Love Boats,” Princess ships were the first at sea to offer captain-officiated weddings, and unlike most cruise lines they still do.

Is This Line Right for You?

Choose this Line If
Don’t Choose this Line If
You’re a traveler with a disability. Princess ships are some of the most accessible at sea.
You like to gamble but hate a smoke-filled casino. Princess casinos are no-smoking areas.
You want a balcony. Princess ships feature them in abundance at affordable rates.
You have a poor sense of direction. Most ships are very large.
You think Princess is still as depicted in The Love Boat. That was just a TV show, and it was more than three decades ago.
You’re too impatient to stand in line or wait. Debarkation from the large ships can be lengthy.

What to Expect on Board

Fitness & Recreation

Personal choices regarding where and what to eat abound, but because of the number of passengers, unless you opt for traditional assigned seating or make a reservation, you might have a short wait for a table in one of the open seating dining rooms.

Menus are varied and extensive in the main dining rooms, and the results are good to excellent. Vegetarian and healthy lifestyle options are always on the menu. A separate menu is designed for children.

Alternative restaurants are a staple throughout the fleet but vary by ship class. Grand-class and newer ships have upscale steak houses and Sabatini’s, an Italian restaurant; both require reservations and carry an extra cover charge. Sun Princess offers a similar steak-house option, although it’s in a sectioned-off area of the buffet restaurant. On Caribbean, Crown,Emerald, and Ruby Princess, a casual evening alternative is the Crab Shack—adjacent to the Lido buffet restaurant, it serves shellfish such as Bayou-style boiled crawfish, clams, and mussels. With a few breaks in service, Lido buffets on all ships are almost always open, and a pizzeria and grill offer casual daytime snack choices. Open 24 hours a day, the International Café located in the Atrium Piazza is the place for an ever-changing array of small bite meals. The fleet’s patisseries and ice cream bars charge for specialty coffee, some pastries, and premium ice cream. A complimentary daily British-style pub lunch served in the ships’ Wheelhouse Bar is available fleet-wide, with the exception of the Sun Princess and Island Princess.

Ultimate Balcony Dining—either a champagne breakfast or full-course dinner—is a full-service meal served on your cabin’s balcony. The Chef’s Table allows guests (for a fee) to dine on a special menu with wine pairings. After a meeting with the executive chef in the galley (and some champagne and appetizers), guests sit at a special table in the dining room. The chef joins them for dessert.


The roster of adult activities still includes standbys like bingo and art auctions, but you’ll also find guest lecturers, cooking classes, wine-tasting seminars, pottery workshops, and computer and digital photography classes.

Nighttime production shows tend toward Broadway-style revues presented in the main show lounge, and performers might include comedians, magicians, jugglers, and acrobats. Live bands play a wide range of musical styles for dancing and listening, and each ship has a dance club. The cruise director’s staff leads lively evenings of fun with passenger participation. At the conclusion of the second formal night, champagne trickles down over a champagne waterfall. Ladies are invited to join the maître d’ to assist in the pouring for a great photo op.

Fitness & Recreation

Spa rituals include a variety of massages, body wraps, and facials; numerous hair and nail services are offered in the salons.

Both the salons and spas are operated by Steiner Leisure. For a half-day fee, escape to The Sanctuary—the adults-only haven—which offers a relaxing outdoor spa-inspired setting with signature beverages, light meals, massages, attentive service, and relaxing personal entertainment.

Modern exercise equipment, a jogging track, and basic fitness classes are available at no charge. There’s a fee for personal training, body composition analysis, and specialized classes such as yoga and Pilates. Grand-class ships have a resistance pool so you can get your laps in effortlessly.

Key cruising tips

Princess Cruises pioneered the concept of affordable balcony accommodations and continues to lead the industry in that regard.
If you’re unsure, select Traditional dining when you reserve your cruise; it is impossible to change from Anytime Dining to Traditional onboard, but it’s easy to go the other way.
Princess Cruises is the only contemporary cruise line that offers deluxe Ultimate Balcony Dining—either an intimate breakfast or romantic dinner served by your own dedicated waiters on your stateroom balcony.
A Princess cruise can be enhanced by adding a Cruisetour, a five- to eight-day in-depth land tour, to your voyage to create a land-and-sea vacation.

Your Shipmates

Princess Cruises attract mostly American passengers, ranging from their mid-thirties to mid-fifties. Families enjoy cruising together on the Princess fleet, particularly during holiday seasons and in summer months, when many children are onboard. Longer cruises, especially those on Pacific Princess, appeal to well-traveled retirees and couples who have the time.

Dress Code

Two formal nights are standard on seven-night cruises; an additional formal night may be scheduled on longer sailings. Men are encouraged to wear tuxedos, but dark suits are appropriate. All other evenings are casual, although jeans are discouraged, and it’s requested that no shorts be worn in public areas after 6 pm.

Junior Cruisers

For young passengers ages 3 to 17, each Princess vessel (except Pacific Princess) has a playroom, teen center, and programs of supervised activities designed for different age groups: ages 3 to 7, 8 to 12, and 13 to 17. Activities to engage youngsters include arts and crafts, pool games, and scavenger hunts. Events such as dance parties, athletic contests, karaoke, and pizza parties occupy teenagers. Children also participate in learning programs focused on the environment and wildlife in areas where the ships sail.

Youth centers operate as usual during port days, including lunch with counselors. For an additional charge, group babysitting is available nightly from 10 pm until 1 am. Infants under 6 months are not permitted; private in-cabin babysitting is not available on any Princess vessel. Children under age 3 are welcome in the playrooms if supervised by a parent.


Professional service by an international staff is efficient and friendly. It’s not uncommon to be greeted in passageways by smiling stewards who know your name.


A gratuity of $13.50 per person per day ($15.50 for passengers in suites and minisuites) is added to shipboard accounts for distribution to stewards and waitstaff. An automatic 15% is added to all bar tabs.

Past Passengers

Membership in the Captain’s Circle is automatic following your first Princess cruise. All members receive a free subscription to Captain’s Circle, a quarterly magazine, as well as discounts on selected cruises.

Perks are determined by the number of cruises or cruise days completed: Gold (one cruise), Ruby (31–50 cruise days), Platinum (51–150 cruise days), and Elite (151 and above cruise days). Benefits really begin to accrue once you’ve completed five cruises. Platinum members receive expedited check-in, a debarkation lounge to wait in on the ship, and, best of all, limited free Internet access during the cruise (150 minutes for 7 days). Elite benefits are even more lavish, with complimentary services such as a mini bar consisting of a selection of liquors, soft drinks, beer, still and sparkling water; deluxe canapés on formal nights; afternoon tea served in your stateroom; upgraded bathroom amenities; and complimentary laundry service.

661/753–0000 or 800/774–6237

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