Our cruise with Princess Cruises around South America on Star Princess was the third cruise we’d taken, all of which had been with Princess, and all of which were on Grand-class ships. As such, there wasn’t a huge amount that was different between Star Princess and the other ships we’d been on (Crown Princess and Diamond Princess) but that didn’t stop me taking photographs anyway because it’s what I do.
One big difference in the three cruises we’d taken by the end of this cruise was in our rooms; we’d started with an inside state room on Diamond, got a free upgrade to a balcony on the Crown, and decided that since we were splashing out on a big cruise into the southern hemisphere and the difference in price wasn’t huge we’d go that little bit extra and grab a mini suite on the Star Princess. The state room we ended up picking was D201, close to the front of the ship and on the starboard side. The reason we chose the front of the ship was because we love seeing and hearing the waves breaking against the bow of the ship; you just don’t get that so much further back. Also, we love the movement of the ship so central positions where the ship’s movements are less pronounced don’t really appeal to us. The reason we chose the starboard side was because we would be cruising around South America in a clockwise direction which would then place land on our side of the ship whenever we were close enough to it; while we love a good, wide ocean view as much as the next person this would allow us to break up the constant view of the water on occasion, providing more interest.
The mini suite was larger, with an extended section with a sofa and a second television set. We hadn’t thought we’d make use of that section but surprised ourselves with just how much we did. The bathroom was larger and included a full bath over which the standard shower was connected. We never got around to using the bath itself but the extra long drying line came in very useful for our swimming gear as we swam a lot during that cruise. Outside, the balcony was very large indeed. The one downside was that it was uncovered and therefore both looked upon and at the mercy of the elements. This didn’t end up being a problem during our cruise but it’s worth considering if privacy on a balcony is important or you’re going somewhere that weather might play a part. Naturally, there were wonderful, unobstructed views and we saw a spectacular night sky leaving Buenos Aires where we could make out the Milky Way despite a fair bit of light pollution.
Getting anywhere on the ship involved use of the stairwells and elevators, all of which were very much what we’d experienced before. Having our room on the deck we were on meant we walked up and down to our room when heading off to the various entertainment options we were typically interested in on the promenade deck throughout the day. Usually we’re very much walk down, elevator up people.
The piazza was exactly what we’d come to expect as well. Light, bright, but warm colouring. We’ve seen other cruise lines’ atriums that have flashier elements but they always seem to pair them with darker, contrasting parts too that make the areas seem more claustrophobic. We do like the open, clean look on Princess ships. There were occasional demonstrations or activities taking place in the piazza but the only one we spent any time looking at from memory was an Argentine Tango being performed.
The first place we had a drink on Star Princess was in Crooners, the piano and cocktail bar on deck 7 at the top of the piazza. During the day and early evening this was one of the best places to come for a quiet chat and to experience the great cocktail-making skills on display. The bar staff on Star Princess remain to this day the best as a group we’ve ever had the pleasure of being with. Drinks were poured on glasses balanced on chins and elbows, funny chat was commonplace, names and what we’d drunk before were remembered, nothing was too much trouble.
Other areas off the piazza or on deck 7 where most of the onboard activities took place included the theatre where we had our muster drill, Explorer’s Lounge where quizzes, BOGOs (buy one drink, get another for a dollar), and art auctions entertained us, Wheelhouse Bar for more BOGOs and some pleasing jazz from an onboard group, and the art gallery.
The promenade deck on Grand-class Princess ships (i.e. not on the newer Royal-class ships) are full, wraparound decks allowing for complete walking circuits, and they were very popular, particularly early in the evening when it seemed a lot of passengers would work off some calories before going for dinner. We took our promenade walks at a far more sedate pace and always loved the views out to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
On the top deck the big draw for most passengers is naturally the various swimming pools. In common with every cruise we’ve been on getting a lounger anywhere near a pool on a sea day was next to impossible which I wouldn’t mind if the people near the water were going to make use of the facilities but they typically don’t. As a result, because we’re averse to getting out of a pool and dripping everywhere up two decks to get to the lounger we managed to find tucked away down the side somewhere, we tended to do most of our swimming in the small pool by the Sanctuary as most people don’t seem to realise it’s there; it’s not ideal for swimming because of its size but it does in a pinch.
The large screen for movies, some sports activities, sun loungers, and great views to the horizon made up the rest of the attractions of the top decks of the Star Princess cruise ship, and if it wasn’t raining then the Zumba classes were held there too.
Another new feature for us and one thing different on the Star Princess compared to the other Grand-class ships we’d been on (and still have been on) was the positioning of Skywalkers Nightclub. On other ships it’s a little further forward, directly accessible from the rear elevators and stairwell but Star Princess and a few others make use of advances in materials weight during construction to shift the nightclub back where it can be reached on a travelator. From the outside this looks like a long tube connecting the club to the rest of the ship. At night it was lovely to step onto the moving walkway and glide along looking at the ocean views through the glass while a smiling member of staff usually waited at the end to see where we would sit in order to hover for a drinks order.
Skywalkers Nightclub was our regular late night stop after dinner. We got to know the staff there pretty well and always enjoyed the disco despite the penchant of the resident DJ, Pedro, to play latin. He’d play requests that would fill the dancefloor then immediately switch to something he liked and everyone would vanish back to their seats. The inability of the DJ to read a crowd notwithstanding, it was a great end to every evening.