Southern California gets its first all-new Princess Cruises flagship in 20 years – Orange County Register

First, a few positives. The ship was sleek and suitably pristine for her maiden voyage, and the filet mignon served at the specialty steakhouse restaurant was cooked to perfection. Our balcony cabin amidships and our inside cabin four decks below were clean, quiet and in perfect working order. I loved the new wearable technology that allows keyless entry when approaching your floating hotel room. The “Rock Opera” production show was top notch.

While these and other aspects belong in the plus column, the proverb that patience is a virtue was used early and often on the maiden voyage of Princess Cruises‘ newest flagship, the 3,600-passenger Discovery Princess. . As virtuous as Harry Potter, we were among the least tolerant original guests that must have been on a hectic week-long round trip from the World Cruise Center in San Pedro to the Mexican Riviera.

The Piazza on Discovery Princess is a majestic three-story atrium. (Photo by David Dickstein)

In general, a reasonable amount of amnesty should be granted on board the maiden sail of a cruise ship. Between all the freshly made moving parts and the varying levels of experience of a newly assembled crew, not to mention the next-gen innovations introduced by a ship’s first paying passengers, not everything will run smoothly, even in calm waters, as they were. from the exciting ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta.

And let’s give any big business a boost during this post-pandemic recovery hampered by supply chain and labor issues. Yet too many causes of high blood pressure appeared in the seven days.

“Rock Opera” is a powerful production show on Discovery Princess. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Processed eggs are the default for made-to-order omelettes? Are the lounges not cleared of used crockery and waste before each event? Players don’t get drinks because the casino wasn’t built with a dedicated bar? Over two hours to get a grilled cheese via the food delivery app? Selecting “Movies Under the Stars” one morning is “The Sound of Music” from 1965?

The noise of first world issues it may make, but we’re talking about a premium cruise line where higher standards should be expected compared to Carnival, Norwegian, MSC and Royal Caribbean at a better price. Despite the disappointing first impression on a voyage limited to just 64% capacity, one can be reassured by the fact that Princess has a reputation too solid for anyone to believe that the plethora of particular issues and policies uncovered on Discovery Princess have not already been resolved or at least addressed.

Good thing too, because the sixth and last of the easily seaworthy Royal-class ships in Princess’ fleet is otherwise nice. An elite-level couple loyal to the Princess of Missouri went so far as to call the new ship “the best in the royal class” since Discovery has all of its favorite places. Crooners, a music and martini bar, is not on all ships of this swan-sung class. Either the hidden Take Five lounge which offers live jazz every night, or the Salty Dog Gastropub in a space occupied by the Vines wine bar on former Royal class ships.

An at-sea version of the game show “Deal or No Deal” was a big hit on Discovery Princess’ maiden voyage. (Photo by David Dickstein)

The newest public participation game played on Princess ships is an at-sea version of “Deal or No Deal”. The activity is rolled out across the fleet, and thanks to a Discovery Princess passenger’s date of birth being “3-3-73”, the top prize has been won on the new flagship. She was randomly chosen to take the stage from those in the main theater who spent at least $25 on “case cards.” The public gasped with her at every rebuff of “the banker’s” offer, and they went wild when her envelope, the lucky number 3, turned out to have the highest dollar value. The game is played twice on a 7-day cruise and card buyers have their own chance to win the top prize of $1,000. For legal reasons, Princess does not place a higher value on its own product; the second prize is a free cruise which, for a traveler, is certainly worth more than a grand.

From screaming audiences to super-fast internet, Princess delivers on its promise of having the best Wi-Fi at sea. MedallionNet Wi-Fi was just that, but some MedallionClass tech wasn’t as great when it it involved making restaurant reservations, accessing restaurant menus, ordering food, or viewing the daily schedule. But how cool is the aforementioned keyless cabin entry? The portable ‘locket’ received on boarding means no more fumbling for a key card while balancing your late night snack in the room at the 24-hour international cafe. We can thank Princess President John Padgett for this brilliant device. Prior to joining Princess, Padgett worked for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts where he led innovations such as the MagicBand, a precursor to the disc-shaped gadget now on all Princess ships.

Touching a wearable activates touchscreens using MedallionClass technology. (Photo by David Dickstein)

“Keyless cabin entry is one of the most basic uses and is an undeniable guest favorite,” Padgett said. “The medallion automatically unlocks the doors, like using a remote key fob to open a car. In addition, personalized greetings on the stateroom door gates welcome guests and note any special steps they can celebrate, such as birthdays and anniversaries.

The medallion also works ashore at participating companies. Convenience and purchasing power are bonuses for passengers who receive 7% onboard credit when they use it to make purchases. I got mine after buying treats at the ChocoMuseo factory in Puerto Vallarta.

The larger-scale sweetness is the fact that the Discovery Princess is the first Princess ship to be brought to the West Coast straight from the shipyard since 2002. It was the 2,600-passenger Star Princess that has sailed to the Mexican Riviera since Los Angeles and Alaska from Vancouver. Now, with Discovery Princess, LA and Seattle will share the flagship until 2023.

The Discovery Princess is the first Princess ship to land on the West Coast straight from the shipyard in 20 years. (Photo by David Dickstein)

After getting sea legs after five trips from San Pedro, the Discovery Princess will spend May through October making 7-day round trips to Alaska from Seattle. When it finishes sailing to Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, the ship will return to Los Angeles for six uninterrupted months of week-long voyages south of the border. Then, return to Seattle for a second Alaska cruise season from April to October 2023.

The Pacific Coast will claim Princess’ flagship until at least November 2023, when the company’s first LNG-powered Sphere-class vessel is set to debut. Boasting a capacity of around 4,300 passengers, the yet-to-be-named ship will be the largest ever built for Princess Cruises. Where it will sail is uncertain, according to Padgett, but with Discovery Princess, the Santa Clarita-based cruise line met its fate early on.

“Discovery was aimed at Southern California from the very beginning,” Padgett said from the Take Five lounge before Discovery’s first departure. “When we build a ship, we look at which market is important to us and where we want it. LA obviously surfaced at the top of the list. We had to put our best ship here. With LA being a major population center, how can it only have the best? For us to have a flagship in this market and in our backyard is great. »

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