Shouts of "They're taking the shopping cart handle off of Grand Princess?" were heard from cruise fans this week as the line announced that the ship would undergo a "dramatic transformation" during its' Spring drydock in April.
|The shopping cart handle (aka Skywalker Nightclub) on sister ship Star|
Princess as she passes under the Golden Gate Bridge
|Another view of Skywalker Nightclub on sister ship Caribbean Princess.|
Both photos courtesy and copyright Princess Cruises.
The most visible of the many changes is the removal of the Skywalker Nightclub, the distinctive feature that capped the rear of the ship high on deck 18. Because the nightclub spanned the entire beam of the ship, several stories above the pool deck, it gave the ship a distinctive appearance... that of a shopping cart, with Skywalker's serving as the handle.
Post-renovation renderings of the provided by Princess show a ship bereft of it's icon, lacking character and definition.
|No longer a shopping cart, just another ship.|
Both photos courtesy and copyright Princess Cruises.
The ship will still offer a nightlife venue (the new One5 Lounge being added to deck 15), but will lack a grand panoramic observation lounge, which strikes many as a big loss for passengers. Relaxing with a beverage and taking in the scenery from climate-controlled comfort high atop the ship is a popular pastime for cruisers. While we applaud the commitment and effort Princess is putting in to keep their ships vibrant and cutting edge, taking out the only real observation lounge on board is troubling.
Though the removal of Skywalkers seems like fait accompli on the other Grand- and Caribbean-class ships during their next dry dock, hopefully Princess will reconsider and leave Skywalker's alone, or, at the very least, replace it with a new, bigger and better observation lounge.
The complete press release from Princess is below, detailing other changes on board Grand Princess including the new Piazza atrium and the addition of the popular Crown Grill specialty restaurant.
Grand Princess to Undergo Dramatic Transformation During Spring Dry dock
Makeover Will Include Piazza Atrium, Tea Lounge, Pizzeria and Nightclub
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (February 10, 2011) -- The most significant transformation ever of a Princess Cruises ship will occur this spring aboard Grand Princess. During a 24-day makeover the ship, which was the prototype for the line's "Grand Class" vessels, will undergo a remarkable renovation to receive many of Princess' trademark features introduced since the ship's 1998 debut including the signature Piazza atrium. Several new features will be also be added including a unique tea lounge and library called "Leaves"; and "Alfredo's," a full-service pizzeria showcasing this renowned Princess dish.A brand new nightclub called One5, inspired by its deck location, will be created on the top deck of the ship, replacing its iconic Skywalker Nightclub, which has given the ship its distinctive profile. Skywalkers will be removed from its 18th deck perch, with its replacement located on deck 15. This change will significantly improve the operational performance of the ship, including greater fuel efficiency."This is the largest makeover we've ever undertaken for any of our ships," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "When Grand Princess was launched she was the most innovative ship at sea, and now we're adding some of the later innovations we introduced on subsequent ships."
The changes will be made during a drydock from April 11 to May 4 at the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas. Highlights of the dramatic makeover include:
New Piazza atrium -- The atrium space of Grand Princess will be completely rebuilt to include this signature Princess feature -- a multi-faceted social hub of the ship combining always-changing quick bites and light meals, beverages, entertainment, shopping and guest services. The Piazza will feature the International Café for pastries, grilled panini sandwiches, salads, fresh-baked cookies and a variety of coffee drinks. Passengers will also enjoy a new Vines wine bar offering a selection of more than 30 wines by the glass, plus a selection of tapas and sushi, and a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottle.
Leaves Tea Lounge and Library -- A fusion of tea lounge and library, the new Leaves offers a distinctive opportunity for passengers to custom-blend a variety of base teas with herbs, fruits and spices to create a personalized tea blend. Created in partnership with Mighty Leaf Tea Company, one of the world's premier maker of artisan teas, Leaves will give passengers an impressive choice of up to 500 different tea blends to suit their palates. A trained tea sommelier will assist passengers in blending a personalized tea creation, which they can enjoy in the midst of the library and a good book Alfredo's Pizzeria -- Known for serving the best pizza at sea, Princess will introduce Alfredo's, a new sit-down pizzeria with an enticing menu of freshly prepared individual-size pizzas. Named for the line's master executive chef, Alfredo Marzi, the pizzeria will feature an open kitchen where passengers can watch chefs create the pizzas they'll enjoy with a glass of wine or other beverage. One5 Lounge -- The new One5 lounge will replace Skywalkers as the place to be for nighttime dancing and relaxing. The new lounge on deck 15 (hence its name) takes its inspiration from the chicest urban nightclubs, and will offer a cool vibe, contemporary seating and lighting, and a dramatic back-lit bar. Crown Grill -- A classic steakhouse with rich wood surroundings, this specialty restauran features an open, theater-style kitchen where chefs custom-prepare premium aged beef and fresh seafood items, including lobster.
Also part of the renovation will be 10 new suites; remodeled casino, boutiques and art gallery; enhancements to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa, and wedding chapel; and the addition of Crooner's Martini Lounge.
The newly renovated Grand Princess will debut on May 5 in Ft. Lauderdale where the ship will depart on a transatlantic crossing for her summer and fall homeport of Southampton, from which she will cruise a variety of European itineraries.Looking to sail on the first Grand Princess cruise after her extensive renovation? Choose from 16 or 23 night Transatlantic crossings that sail May 5 by clicking here.
We want to hear from you: What do you think of the changes to Grand Princess? Leave a comment below!