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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Princess Cruises

MV Sea Princess

Rating:Three Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator: Princess Cruise Lines
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1998 / 2009
Length / Tonnage: 873 / 77,499
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 972 / 1,950
Officers / Crew: British / Italian
Operating Area: Australia, New Zealand

Review by Mark H. Goldberg, TravelPage.com, Cruise Editor, and Christopher E. Smith, TravelPage.com, Associate Cruise Editor

Gotta keep up with the maritime Joneses! You'd think there was some kind of law that says that a cruise line isn't a cruise line unless they have the largest most expensive ships on the sea! And Princess is as expert a social climber as any other mass market cruise line....so with a dizzying pace, out of Italy's Fincantieri shipyards came the SUN PRINCESS, DAWN PRINCESS, GRAND PRINCESS....and very soon, the OCEAN PRINCESS will be hatched. There has to be more to all this overbuilding than corporate egotism....and there is.....it costs a cruise line far less to operate large high density ships....and the fact that cruise passengers will get more selections of ship, destination and departure date is but icing on the cake.

For those with a persistent passion for the past of Princess, have a look at our reviews of the ISLAND PRINCESS, SKY PRINCESS, and REGAL PRINCESS....the histories there will bring you up to speed.

Forgive me if I seem unenthusiastic over the SEA PRINCESS.....as megaliners go, she's all right....but my mind wanders to the other ships in the Princess fleet....and when I compare them with her, she falls short in a couple of ways. Whether one loves the decor or not is such a personal matter.....and while I can appreciate the amount of work the designers put into both the SUN PRINCESS and SEA PRINCESS, most of their efforts leave me cold. More important to me is the comfort level in the cabins. Here, these ships fall short of their older consorts REGAL PRINCESS and CROWN PRINCESS.....squeezing every last inch of space in these two, Princess downsized the cabins.....then they placed the most expensive digs all the way aft, giving new and true meaning to the industry phrase "propeller suite"....and I feel that with SEA PRINCESS, the line regressed rather than progressed.

Now, my fleetwide lament is no more nor less prevalent on SUN, DAWN or SEA....Princess relentlessly and shamelessly harasses the passengers to fork over money on board until they bleed....they have turned their ships into floating shlock store, gambling temples and auction houses. The onboard paper delivered each night to your cabin, the Princess Patter, is chock full....in fact mostly full....of bar news, gift shop news, spa news....telling when and how you can take advantage of these exciting on board opportunities to spend your money....it has reached such a ludicrous point that you could count on one hand the number of scheduled activities that won't cost you anything to attend. I condemn Princess more vehemently than other companies for this practice, because Princess doesn't own up to this in their brochures....the image they want you to buy into is one of more refinement and sophistication.....but the reality is you'll be inundated with offers of sale tee shirts, "inches of gold", Lladró....and that doesn't even cover the beauty salon concession's exhortation to get your daily aromatherapy. At least competitors like Carnival don't pretend to be something they are not. I abhor false advertising!!! I, more than anyone, would love to overlook this irritation....but I can't....Princess won't let me!

Public Areas
When I plop myself into one of the comfortable chairs in the Atrium Lounge, my mind wanders off to home....how, when out at the local upscale mall with my family, I'll spend hour after hour parked on a bench....watching everyone come, go and come again. Then I scratch my head and wonder why I spent all this money to come on Princess when I could have gotten about the same experience just a short drive away from home! And that's the major problem I've got with the SEA PRINCESS....a good chunk of the better public areas are right around the atrium. If I don't hang out around there, I could go to the Wheelhouse Bar....they have great ship models and paintings of old P&O vessels....but I'm not a cigar fan....and the odor in here sends me scurrying every time. The Vista Lounge is another possibility....it's a large, airy room where I can breathe.... but it's set up theater style....after all, it is a show lounge....and I don't much like row upon row of banquette seating. There are, however, a handful of tables and chairs arranged along the walls, conducive to a restful stay....but with almost 2,000 passengers aboard, on a crummy weather day you'll have to line up to sit here. The nearby card lounge is off limits....I don't want to disturb the bridge players....and the Passages Library is just that....a passageway. So that leaves me with but one alternative....outside....and here, at least, the SEA PRINCESS is great! There's plenty of room, lots of deck chairs, a wonderful promenade...and their pools and hot tubs and bars and a paddle tennis court are great....just like most ships. Any other public spaces of note? Yes, indeed, and the famous Princess service figures in here....because they'll all but open your wallet for you....no need for you to lift a finger except to put your "X" on the sales chit.....when you visit the beauty parlor, Princess Links (a golf simulator), the Grand Casino, photo gallery, Patisserie, Regatta and Illuminations (ship's shops).

There's a rumor floating around....and it's just that...a rumor....that the passengers housed in the highest grade accommodations are put in one restaurant. The two sitting Venetian and Florentine Dining Rooms are identical, except for color scheme. Don't look at these rooms on the deck plans....all the squiggles and curls will set your stomach 'a churning. You'll find that once on board, it makes more sense....Princess has divided these large rooms into small sections...and the traffic flow works well, although if you had a bird's eye view of the room on night one of your cruise, it would be almost comical watching passengers trying to find their tables....almost like mice in a maze! The meal service is the same as on all Princess ships....affable, efficient and peppered with a bit of showmanship when the chafing dishes come alive with fire and ice. The food is better than on the REGAL and CROWN PRINCESS....but not quite as good as the SKY and ROYAL PRINCESS. But you won't go hungry...there's plenty of choice, lots of courses, and you might strike up great friendships here. A bit of applause to Princess is due......tables for two are available....though they are limited....so put your request for one in writing right now.

The Horizon Court, all the way on top and in the front of the SEA PRINCESS, is open all the time....you could set a world's record here for the longest nonstop meal on a ship. The food varies in quality....breakfasts and lunches tend to be simple standard foods....and if you're heart's desire is for something more complicated than a salad or sandwich, I'd recommend you head to the dining room. The casual dinners up here are popular for the hate to dress up crowd....but the quality of food just doesn't match what you'll get in the main restaurants. And worse, when I read the dinner menu up here, I though I was in a mediocre hotel coffee shop....only the lack of prices suggested I was at sea.

If you need more food than what you can get in the Horizon Court, you might wander into the pizzeria....or go to your cabin and order room service.

You'll think you'll need a decoder ring to figure out why Princess Cruises created TWENTY EIGHT different cabin categories for a new ship.....after all, these vessels of the '90s are supposed to be a little more egalitarian....except for the widening schism between suites and standard grades. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the cruel truth is that most of the categories on the SUN, DAWN and SEA PRINCESS are identical in size and fixtures....and there are two reasons why Princess has so many room grades....they're going to hate me for letting the cat out of the bag here. The first reason they did this is simple....they can charge you more money and provide you nothing extra! Have you ever shelled out a hefty chunk of money for an airline seat just to find out the guy traveling next to you paid less for the same thing? Well.....I see some similarities right here at Princess Cruises. The other reason they've given us all these choices of cabin types will be revealed if you've read the words "free upgrade" in ads for this line...again, you'll think you've gotten something special when they offer to pull you from the depths of cabin world and confirm you, a'la George and Louise Jefferson, in "a deluxe apartment in the sky".

So let's unravel cruising's Rosetta Stone of cabin grading.....and we'll find that there is only one kind of inside cabin, two groups of outsides....with or without balcony....minisuites, and suites. All the cabins on these ships are acceptable....they are well designed, but they are not a step up when compared to the older ships in the fleet. We may be talking about a reduction of just a few square feet in each cabin, but trust me....if you've sailed on the REGAL, CROWN or ARCADIA (ex-STAR PRINCESS), you'll notice the difference straight away. All the cabins not labeled suite or minisuite are equipped with two beds convertible to a queen, a mini bar, television, and shower in the bathroom. The storage space is adequate for a cruise up to two weeks long. All the standard outside cabins have a window, and the only obstructed view rooms are in category "F". The "AC" minisuites are my choice for best location and maximum comfort....each has a queen size bed, a narrow sitting room area, two televisions, minibar, large closet, bathroom with a tub and separate shower, and a delightful balcony. For a very few dollars more, there are six "AB" minisuites, a good bet to book if you want a view aft. These cabins are adjacent to the top dollar cabins....the suites....although my ears always prick with interest when I've been told we're going to reserve a suite for a cruise....on the SUN, DAWN and SEA PRINCESS, I'm not as enthusiastic.

The suites here seem almost an afterthought.....as if the designers finished the deck plans and realized they had forgotten to put the suites in. So these six cabins have been shunted all the way aft, two each on Dolphin, Caribe and Baja Decks. They are asymmetrical rooms, with very odd layouts, and even with their fine decorations and furnishings, at the price Princess charges for residence here, I avoid them.

Who Goes
You'll meet all kinds here....multi repeaters, partiers, families, the young and old, the wealthy and the not so.

Sea Princess currently splits her time between Alaska, Mexico, or Panama Canal itineraries.

If I had a direct line to the heads of Princess Cruises, I'd shout "Come on guys.....you have a okay trio of ships in the SEA, SUN and DAWN PRINCESS. Come to think of it, I like almost all your ships....but please, oh please, tone down the Turkish bazaar feeling. We're not all shopaholics, and I can't believe the resultant ill will you are creating among your passengers is worth the few extra dollars you're making by hounding us to buy 'til we're numb." That's my ONLY major complaint with Princess....and it's the ONLY reason I cannot assign their ships higher ratings. The food on the SEA PRINCESS, though not always the best in the fleet, is edible, but the service is excellent and the atmosphere is lovely. So if you are a stronger person than I, and can pay no mind to the endless barrage of on board merchandising, I think you'll have a wonderful cruise on the SEA PRINCESS.

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