From topiaries to xylophones, here’s what you’ll only find on a Majestic Princess cruise — and what you won’t
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Editor’s note: Princess Cruises provided a complimentary cruise for TPG to experience Majestic Princess. The cruise line paid for all travel to and from the cruise ship. The opinions expressed below are entirely from the author and weren’t subject to review by Princess or any external entity.
Between the hype surrounding the cruise industry’s restart and the fanfare given to new ships that are finally having their moment in the spotlight — uhem Celebrity Apex, uhem Scarlet Lady — we sometimes forget that there are existing ships just as worthy of a mention.
One of those is Majestic Princess, a vessel that debuted in Shanghai in 2017 as part of Princess Cruises‘ Royal Class. It was built explicitly for the Chinese market and later shifted to sail from Australia. But with both countries currently closed to cruising, the ship has relocated to North America, sailing a series of Alaska summer voyages and California coastal and Mexican Riviera cruises in winter through 2023.
What’s interesting about the ship — besides the fact that it’s finally offering often-overlooked passengers on the U.S. West Coast a new-hardware option — is that it retains several of the onboard offerings initially intended for the Asian market. Here, I’ll tell you all about them and call out a few of the features that have been removed since the ship left China.
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Fun features on Majestic Princess
Hollywood Conservatory: Instead of the extra-charge, adults-only Serenity sun deck found on other Princess ships, Majestic Princess is home to the complimentary Hollywood Conservatory. This is a light and airy but shaded observation deck at the very front of Deck 17. From its perch, it offers sweeping sea views with plenty of seating, including private alcoves.
The space also features whimsical faux topiaries of chess pieces (complemented by a giant chessboard) and a dancing family (ironic, as children aren’t allowed there). There are also several large xylophones scattered throughout for passengers to play. Their purpose isn’t entirely clear, but they do create an air of mystery.
Harmony: This $29-per-person Chinese restaurant originally offered items like jellyfish, abalone and beef tendon. It has since been tweaked for North American palates and now includes items like gourmet crab rangoons, shrimp spring rolls and General Tso’s chicken. I ate there for dinner, and it was one of the best meals I had onboard.
The restaurant takes up real estate occupied by Sabatini’s Italian eatery on other vessels in the fleet, but fear not: You can get your Italian carb fix at Alfredo’s, which serves up delicious free pizza.
VIP Gaming: Because the Chinese market tends toward casino play, there are two casinos onboard. The secondary one, dubbed VIP Gaming, has a small selection of tables for gambling. However, I never actually saw it in use on my sailing, and the space mainly functioned as a bar and lounge area.
Outfitted with comfy seating and a wall full of TVs, the area, adjacent to the Grand Casino, is the ideal outpost for taking advantage of the line’s recently announced live sports betting offerings. (Passengers can play casino games and place sports match wagers via the MedallionClass app.)
Additional shopping: All Princess ships have onboard shops, where passengers can buy everything from sundries and logo items to jewelry and purses. But to cater to the Chinese market, Majestic Princess was outfitted with additional retail therapy locations.
Big names abound, including Coach, Bulgari and Cartier — all of which have dedicated stores — as well as shops that sell Burberry, Gucci, Lacoste, Ferragamo, Ray-Ban, Prada and more.
Fun features removed from Majestic Princess
Sing on the Sea: A series of dedicated private karaoke suites, collectively called Sing on the Sea, was designed specifically for Chinese passengers.
Since Majestic Princess relocated, they have been replaced; the rooms have been converted into extra spa treatment rooms.
Gong Cha Cafe: Gong Cha Cafe — located next to entertainment venue Princess Live!, which frequently hosts game shows and trivia — was a bar that specialized in bubble tea through a partnership with China’s land-based Gong Cha.
The enclave is still there, but following the ship’s relocation, the cafe was renamed the Princess Live! Cafe, in line with other ships in the fleet. It now serves a variety of coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages. Bubble tea is no longer on the menu.
Tea library: Next to the Deck 5 Piazza’s International Cafe, passengers will spot a couple of wooden towers that look like card catalogs from a library. In the vessel’s former life, these kiosks held an impressive selection of tea from which passengers were able to choose.
Although they still stand proud, they’re empty, and Princess currently has no plans to refill them.
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Featured photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy.
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