A 3D rendering of Grand Princess, sans Skywalkers nightclub.
Photo-rendering courtesy of Princess Cruises.
During a drydock from April 11 to May 4 in the Bahamas, Grand Princess will loose her distinctive, elevated "spoiler" above her stern. Home to Skywalkers Night Club, this area was the first of its kind to be built on any cruise ship, and was serviced by a very cool moving walkway that elevated passengers from Deck 15 to Deck 18, with stunning views of the ocean and ship below.
Skywalker's, as seen from Deck 15 aboard sister-ship Golden Princess.
Photo © Aaron Saunders
Skywalkers interior at night aboard Golden Princess.
Photo © Aaron Saunders
But when Grand Princess was built, there was no existing real-world prototype to compare to. As a result, the ship was top and stern heavy owing to heavier construction materials being used. This increases the overall structural stress on the hull, and reduced the ship's fuel economy.
In its place on Deck 15 will be a new nightclub, One5, named for the deck it resides on.
Because sister ships Golden Princess and Star Princess were constructed later, their "spoilers" were made of lighter materials and aren't subject to the same stresses as the heavier one aboard Grand Princess. Thus, the line has no current plans to remove Skywalkers from them.
Besides the structural considerations, many cruisers disliked how the massive structure blocked out the sunlight to the pool and terraced decks below. When we sailed aboard sister-ship Golden Princess in 2008, we also noticed Skywalkers itself was rarely utilized, despite the stunning views. Conversely, the area was far more populated in its lower-deck incarnation aboard our Crown Princess voyages.
Grand Princess's atrium will also see substantial refurbishment.
Photo-illustration courtesy of Princess Cruises.
Grand Princess is also getting a makeover on the inside. Her atrium - always the most different from later designs - will be transformed into the line's signature Piazza, first popularized on 2006's Crown Princess. The popular International Cafe, serving up light snacks and drinks, will be located here, as will Vines, Princess's dedicated wine and sushi bar. More than 30 different wines will be available by the glass or bottle, and tapas are now offered here as well.
A new Tea Lounge and Library concept, called Leaves, will also be installed on Grand Princess. In partnership with the Mighty Leaf Tea Company, over five hundred (yes, five hundred!) different blends of tea will be offered, along with the assistance of a trained tea sommelier to aid guests in their selection. Mix in some books, and you've got one area that could prove to be incredibly popular.
The line's signature Crown Grill specialty restaurant will also make an appearance here, serving up delicious steak, seafood and lobster. The casino will be remodeled, along with enhancements to the Horizon Court Lido Buffet, Lotus Spa, and general public areas. Crooner's Martini Bar, a popular addition on other Princess ships, will also be added during the refit.
While she may be loosing her most distinctive external feature, these exciting changes and refurbishments ensure Grand Princess will continue to offer passengers a stellar cruise experience for years to come.
For more information on both Grand Princess, be sure to visit the Princess Cruises website.