Cruise Ship: Caribbean Princess
Cruise Destination: Western Caribbean
Cruise Dates: September 23-30, 2006
Guest Contributors: Mary & Vincent Finelli
We always enjoy our first visit to a newer ship and this cruise on the Caribbean Princess, launched in 2004, was no exception. This ship looked majestic in port with her eighteen deck high Skywalkers Nightclub suspended above the rear, like a race car spoiler. Capt. Manfuso was very happy to extend a real warm Princess greeting to us. We also met Passenger Services Director (PSD) Peter Hollinson and his able assistant Rebecca Lamb, who proved to have a wealth of knowledge on the Caribbean Princess. Thus, just a few hours on board, we had several new acquaintances and were about to encounter an old one when we checked on our dining reservations, Maitre D' Nicola Furlan. We had met him a few years ago on the Grand Princess. We also made many new friends including Executive Chef Giuseppe Pollara and Pastry Chef Riccardo Bellaera (both from Sicily, Italy) and more on these two accomplished men later.
This ship is the largest of the Princess ships --- picture this: The Grand Princess, plus one more deck. The old saying about the Grand Princess when she first sailed from Venice, Italy, in May 1998 was "...she presented a view so grand that only a solar eclipse is more spectacular..." must now be replaced by the idea that only the Caribbean Princess is closer to heaven!
Embarkation on the Caribbean Princess
We sailed from Ft. Lauderdale, which is the closest port to our home and thus our favorite. Saturday morning traffic was light on I-95 and we arrived at the port approximately 11:00am. There were still passengers debarking from the last cruise, but we were placed in a large cool waiting room and given a No. 1 boarding pass along with other wheel chair passengers. Boarding time is listed as 1:00pm, but it actually began at noon. We had wheelchair assistance all the way to our mini suite. Later we heard that some passengers had a long wait of up to 3 hours; thank goodness we didn't.
The Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship
The Caribbean Princess was built by Fincantieri Shipyards in Monfalcone, Italy and is hull #6067. Launched in 2004, she is registered in Hamilton, Bermuda and weighs 112,894 gross tons. She is 950.01 ft. long and has a total breadth including wings (2 folding fin stabilizers) of 165.7 ft. ; however, her moulded beam is 118 ft. with a maximum draft of 27.7 ft. Her passenger capacity is 3,740 with a crew of 1,060 (technical staff is 87 --- 23 officers and 64 crew). She has four 16 cylinder diesel engines in vee form, plus two 12 cylinder diesel engines all attached to a synchronous generator. Propulsion is provided by two electric motors activating two propellers, two rudders and six transverse thrusters, capable not only of forward and backward motion, but also of sideways movement. The only thing that surpasses her fuel capacity of 2,649 tons is her fresh water capacity of 2,731 tons. On board there are 14 passenger elevators (lifts), 13 service elevators, 4 handicapped platforms, 4 store platforms and a passenger conveyer (a movable walkway to the Skywalker's Nightclub).
Enough of the mechanical specifics and now to the decor which is beautifully subdued. When entering on the Plaza Deck 5, the most stunning design is John Richen's "Caribbean Symphony" which are three deck tall hand carved aluminum panels set between glass panes. The underwater scenes picture fishes, manatees, medusas (jellyfish) etc. and sea flora. They are truly breathtaking. When inside the elevators, Deck 8 and up have fanciful porthole bubble displays.
The handy Caribbean Princess's Passenger Pocket Guide starts with the following decks: Gala Deck 4 has the medical center, we were invited to tour it but could not make it --- from discussions with passengers who had occasion to use the facilities, we found out that they were more than adequate --- swift and complete. Aft Decks 4 & 5 have the Galley.
Plaza Deck 5 midship has the Island Dining Room with Carlos Ozzimo's "Island Series." He has also done lovely pastoral series for the Coral and Palm Dining Rooms and even the "Grand Casino Series", all of which are acrylic on canvas. The simple wood paneled walls with smoked glass and brass sconces are stately but mellow. On the starboard side near the Panoramic Lifts there is the Joker's Card room with the "Old World Maps Series" (Anonymous), beautifully reproduced on tiles. In the atrium are also located the Grand Plaza Lobby Bar and the Passenger Services and the Tour Desks. Forward on Deck 5 there are staterooms and a Laundromat.
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