Princess Cruises’ new Discovery Princess ship has such elegant interior decor, with stunning marble floors and sparkling crystal chandeliers, that its 3,600 passengers could be forgiven for bumping into each other while looking up and down when walking around.
Soothing colours of coffee and cream, highlighted with jet black and gleaming golds create a luxurious atmosphere that’s both calm and confident, as PAX learned on board Discovery during its second voyage from April 3-10, 2022 along the California coast from Los Angeles.
The Piazza atrium is especially beautiful. It’s the jewel of the ship’s crown, the social hub and a magnet for those who enjoy dancing and music.
Discovery is the line’s sixth and last ship of the Royal-class category and a lovely finale to sister ships Royal, Regal, Majestic, Enchanted and Sky.
Princess now has about 15 ships in its fleet. Discovery is currently homeported in Los Angeles for California and Mexico cruises and will be moving to Seattle for Alaska voyages.
Panoramic views, upscale cabanas
During our sailing, there were about 2,300 passengers on board (including 88 children) and the average passenger age was 63.
While the general average age of a Princess cruiser is about 57, demographics can vary widely based on the itinerary, season, holidays and other factors.
Discovery has a beautiful infinity pool at the aft that offers sweeping wake views thanks to its glass wall; two mid-ship pools; and an adults-only pool at the quiet Retreat area. There are 10 hot tubs throughout the ship.
The Sanctuary is a fee-based, private-access area that has a panoramic view over the bow. Upscale cabanas, padded loungers, hot tub and special food, beverages and massage service offers an elevated experience.
Other venues include a basketball court, putting green, running track, ping pong and Seawalk glass floor walkway for those who want to test their fear of heights.
Lobster at the buffet
There are 25 bars and restaurants. The meals in the three dining rooms are so good that your clients who don’t want to splurge on specialty restaurant fees won’t be disappointed with the main dining experience.
Even the World Fresh Marketplace buffet serves lobster on occasion.
The buffet selection is vast, mostly self-serve and selection is made easy by offering many single portion items in attractive bowls. Passengers can choose as many bowls as they like so there’s no need for serving utensils or crew help.
The 24-hour International Café has sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts. By the pool, passengers will find burgers at the Salty Dog Grill and soft ice cream at Swirls.
Gigi’s Pizzeria and Slice both offer pizza – every ship should have two pizza places. The Pastry Shop offers decadent desserts and there’s also a traditional Afternoon Tea in the dining rooms.
Specialty restaurants with a cover charge (about $12 to $29/person U.S. for dinners) include superior meals created by Michelin-star and award-winning chefs.
Choose from Bistro Sur La Mer that serves French cuisine, the Salty Dog Gastro Pub, Crown Grill steakhouse and Sabatini’s Italian restaurant.
Ocean Terrace Sushi and Gelato have a la carte pricing. Room service is available 24 hours, but some items are not free so remind your clients to ask first.
There are about 10 bars and lounges. Outdoors, passengers will enjoy the WakeView Bar at the aft, Sea View mid-ship and Retreat Bar at the adults pool.
There’s also Crooners martini bar; Crown Grill Bar that features piano music; Vista Lounge for bands and DJs; Take 5 for jazz; Bellini’s; the Mix; Salty Dog and Princess Live that features comedy. Good Spirits is a bar where the bartender describes how a drink is made and the demonstration is featured on TV screens.
It’s important for your clients to carefully read the detailed terms of the different beverage packages so they don't have any surprise bills at the end of their cruise.
For a more all-inclusive cruise experience suggest the merits of the Princess Plus package to clients that bundles charges of a premium drinks package, Wi-Fi, gratuities and more. Savings could be about 50 per cent.
Beatles, ABBA, Elton John
The shows feature high-quality singers, dancers, magicians and comedians.
“Rock opera” performers wear glamorous avant-garde costumes for a show featuring a mix of classic rock and opera.
“Spotlight Bar" is a show that features a bar where performers meet storytellers who share tales of their lives through songs. In general, musical tastes on Discovery focus on the Beatles, ABBA, Elton John, Billy Joel and similar artists.
Discovery launches the game show “Deal or No Deal” with passengers competing for cash prizes. Elsewhere passengers will find the casino, bingo, karaoke, magic trick lessons, seminars, arts and crafts, shops and more. Movies Under the Stars is a Princess fan favourite.
Camp Discovery Youth and Teen Centre has unique programs. There’s also a well-equipped gym and spa with hydro-pool and more.
Sky Suites offer exclusive amenities, attentive service and a dedicated Suite Experience Manager.
These luxurious accommodations for up to five guests have 1,000-square-foot balconies (92 square metres) featuring 270-degree views, making them the cruise line’s largest balconies at sea.
There are 1,830 staterooms:
- 2 Sky Suites
- 42 Suites with private balconies
- 2 Window suites
- 374 Mini-suites with private balconies
- 311 Deluxe Balconies
- 753 Balconies
- 6 Premium Oceanview
- 340 Inside cabins
- Accessible Staterooms: 40
- Connecting Staterooms: 100
Study cabin categories well, as many clients may be surprised that a basic balcony stateroom doesn’t have a couch.
They will need to upgrade to get a two-person couch, or perhaps choose a Mini Suite for a three-seater, pull-out bed couch.
Some bathrooms have shower curtains rather than a glass door and some staterooms are serviced only once per day, unless your client requests extra service such as an evening turn-down.
Loonie-sized medallion is room key
The Princess Medallion app has many helpful features.
You can upload documents for embarkation, complete you muster drill, book dining times, specialty restaurants, buy shore excursions, check the calendar of events and more.
There’s also a wayfinding feature to guide you around the ship or find a family member.
You can also order food, beverages and even items such as sunscreen delivered to wherever you’re located on the ship. Wager-based gaming is also on the app – from sports betting to playing casino favourites.
However, the app can be glitchy. Advise your clients that if they encounter a never-ending “Loading…” symbol, to turn their smartphone off and on again, or delete the app and re-install it.
Guest services or the Internet café staff can also help.
If really frustrated, guests can revert to “old school” methods. Ask housekeeping for the daily events newsletter, do bookings on their TV, by phone, or in person at guest services.
Instead of key cards, Princess provides a loonie-sized medallion that acts as a room key, personal ID and charge card on the ship and at select merchants on shore.
The medallion can be worn on a lanyard, bracelet, necklace or clip. The medallion also automatically unlocks the stateroom door from about a metre away. It shows your photo on the display and gives you a green light that it’s unlocked.
Every Princess cruise features the ship’s horn playing the heart-warming “Love Boat” TV show theme song, and this voyage also had a wedding on board – a well-known Princess specialty if any of your clients are planning to get married or want to renew their vows.
Diane Tierney is a former cruise columnist for the Toronto Star, has been on 77 cruises to 46 countries and has 50,000+ followers on Instagram. Follow her at @Cruiseguru!