Plaza Deck (5): The Plaza deck is the first thing you see when entering the ship. The atrium is three decks high and topped with a beautiful stained glass. A piano player is entertaining the guests at cocktail times and you can find many cozy chairs. There is also a lobby bar. You'll also find one of two Purser's desk. Just on the right of the purser's desk, you can find a nicely (although small) furbished library. I recommend going as early as possible if you don't have a clue of what to see on your trip, because the travel books are leaving fast. Just beside, you have Players, the card room that features also games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit), for those afternoons at sea, in case you really wouldn’t know what to do. There is also a writing room. On the back of the ship, you'll also find the Michelangelo, one of the main dining rooms.
The Fiesta deck (6): is the host of the Botticelli (which is only accessible by a rear stairs, which is weird) and Leonardo main dining rooms, princess boutiques, the casino (not too tacky and features some cool holographic sea life pictures) and the fabulous Princess Theatre which is two decks high.
The Promenade deck (7): Features well… the wraparound promenade which will become one of our favorite place, the Painted Desert, the Tex-Mex alternative dining option ($8 cover charge, margarita included), the Heart and Minds chapel where the captain can tie the lovers’ knot should you decide to get married. The Explorer Lounge has an Egyptian-Indian feel and is a venue for art auctions during the day shows and becomes a dance-hall and karaoke performance stage (passengers can also become performers on the last night of the cruise with the passenger’s talent contest).
The Wheelhouse bar has a gentlemen club feel. Here, the nautical theme is dominant and it’s very cozy. You will also find Sabatinni's, the Italian upscale dining option (6 course meal, $20 cover charge), and last but not least: the Vista Show lounge, one of the busiest places on the ship. During the day, you can watch movies, play bingo, attend lectures and at night, you can… also watch movies and see performances like stand-up comedians. A piece of advice, be early on performance night or you will be stuck behind a pillar that blocks your view. And going from the boutiques to the Vista Lounge, you have a big alley were the photo-service is installed. You will find your ship pictures on display and for you to purchase.
The Lido deck (12) is the second busiest deck on ship with two pools: the Poseidon Pool where all the action is and the Calypso Pool with its retractable roof (great for bad weather or cool sea breeze). By the way, you will find the Poseidon Grill by the pool that serves you the usual fast-food things (burgers’n fries) and the Pizzeria (go have a try, they’re delicious and there is a special pizza everyday). There is also Scoops, the ice-cream parlor, but you have to pay, it’s a Haagen-Dazs concession. Words of advice: if you come to the Horizon Court between 3:30pm and 5:30pm, vanilla and chocolate ice cream is available (with the indispensable fudges and cream). Further back, the Horizon Court that has 24 hours buffet and is Justin's favorite place. The aft Terrace is a very nice place to have your breakfast if you don't wake up too late (the heat sets it quickly) with the adult-only terrace pool down on the Aloha deck.
The main attraction of the Sun Deck (14) is the Plantation Spa. If you don’t feel like it (or can’t afford, it doesn’t come cheap) to have a massage, you can use the Lap Pool, the sauna and the gym. If you are thinking about having a spa treatment, it is better you go right away there and make your appointment as it gets all booked up very quickly. It’s also the area where kids are kings which the Fun Zone for the young ones and Off-Limits, a teenagers’ only nook. For the kids and kids at heart, there is also Voyage of Discovery, an arcade heaven but it’s not cheap! The Conservatory is a relaxing place, overlooking the calypso pool. Ideal for your afternoon tea.
The Sport deck (15) has a tennis court-volley-ball-basket ball court and a jogging track that runs all along the ship. There is a golf simulator as well, Princess Links.
And finally, the Sky Deck (17) which has perhaps the neatest feature of the ship: the Skywalker Lounge, a nightclub hanging above the rest of the ship and which gives the Grand class ships that distinctive look. To access the lounge, there is a glass walkway (that is all lit up with neon at night). The Lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows with a superb view during the day. If you go during the day, you won’t find anyone there and you can spend a quiet time.
And yes, you're not dreaming, there is no deck 13, 13 being an unlucky number, it's not mentionned. You go from 12 to 14 .
But the time to sail away was near and quick, we ran to the lido deck to see our departure. Justin and I thought we’d have the Love boat theme. Alas! I guess since they’ve been bought by P&O… But, with a Love Boat cocktail on my hand (with the colors of Princess: blue, green and white), sun in my eyes, music in my ears… Anchors off! We saluted Fort Lauderdale as we left and waved at people at the parking lot that was watching us … thinking that only six months ago, we were the ones standing in the parking lot!
The ship slowly backed up in channel and we were gone, everybody gathered at the back of the ship to see Fort Lauderdale disappearing with the setting sun.
On Princess, you have the choice for your dining option: fixed seating (at 6pm or 8pm) or Personal Choice Dining (you can come anytime you want). At first, we had chosen to have fixed seating at the 6pm service, just to try, knowing that you can change your mind afterwards. Because we would miss the sunsets if we carried on with the 6pm dining, we decided to go on Personal choice. But for our first dinner, we went ahead with the fixed seating. It’s always a gamble because you never know with what kind of dining companions you will end up. Ours were pleasant enough but that didn’t stop us from choosing PCD. Anyway, the question you are probably asking is: how is the food?
First, you have to know that the menu is changing everyday: French, Italian, the Captain’s Gala Dinner… and if really, you really don’t like what you see on the menu, you can always order from the permanent menu. The food is very tasty and well-presented although not exceptional. Each time we were there, the service was impeccable but if you come at a busy time, you might wait longer than you’d want for your food and drink (although it’s part of the experience of dining in any fine restaurants).
The Maitre D’ (they are all Italians in the three different dining rooms) are all great, using that Italian charm (especially with the ladies, but it’s part of the game) to put you at ease. So, no complains from that point of view.
We spent our first night aboard watching Ocean’s Eleven in the Vista Lounge and after that, we went to take a look at what was going on in the Princess Theater, we just arrived in the middle of a stand-up comedian‘s act. Unfortunately, I can‘t remember his name but he was really good. Not being a fanatic of Las Vegas style shows, we haven’t seen any but the comments I heard were very positive, I even heard "dazzling".
We also went to the Skywalker Lounge, which is really great at night, lots of people, nice light work, good music (we were just there for a "disco-mix, they have theme-parties too).
Finally, exhausted, we decided it was time to go to bed.