"The last of a dying breed"
Pacific Princess docked at the New York City passenger ship next to Premier's Big Red Boat II - Photo by K. Krenz
At the port of New York we, along with 8 others, were given a special intimate tour of Princess Cruises' Pacific Princess. One of the ships used in the original TV series The Love Boat, she is the last of a dying breed of intimate mass market cruise vessels.
I started cruising in the 1960's on family vacations, when most cruise ships were in the 20 to 30 ton range (except for the large trans-Atlantic ocean liners that were mainly designed as transportation to get from point A to B).
The Pacific Princess falls into the breed of what I call the intimate class of cruise ships. At 20,186 gross registered tons, the ship is very small by today's standards. Cruising on these smaller vessels brings the meaning "being in the same boat" to life--if you want to socialize and make new friends, it is much easier on a ship this size. The Pacific Princess only accommodates 658 passengers and has a crew of 353. Most of the newer ships average 2000-plus passengers and are 3 to 4 times larger.
In today's market, the smaller cruise ships are usually in the fleets of the premium cruise lines such as Seabourn, Siversea, Radisson Seven Seas, Cunard or Windstar. Very few mass-market lines have retained smaller ships, as it is more economical to run a larger ship. Princess Cruises is an exception, with one smaller ship left in its fleet. The next largest ship in the Princess fleet is more than twice the Pacific Princess' tonnage.
Stepping onboard is like taking a step back in time. A cozy, warm feeling hit me as soon as I walked onboard, something that doesn't strike me as hard on the larger cruise vessels. Princess Cruise Line has managed to keep the Pacific Princess in excellent condition--she didn't appear at all warn. Princess has kept the '70s alive in her decor, but the ship is still very attractive and the design works well. When the ship was built in 1971, the designers wanted to have a feel of open space, which many ships of that period did not have. A good example of this is the open area in the heart of the ship that makes up the lobby and the mezzanine, where the Purser's desk, tour offices, beauty salon and photo shop are located. An attractive winding staircase lets you walk to either level. The first floor has live trees, a seating area and a tiled wall adorned with a very modern medal sculpture.
The Crystal Pool.
Remember this from the TV series? - Photo by K. Krenz
Another enclosed open area is the Pacific Lounge, found towards the aft, where one of two large show lounges is located. Facing the front of the ship you see the dance floor and stage, and in the opposite direction there are ceiling to floor windows that are two-decks high looking out onto the aft pool. Also in the back of the lounge is an open spiral staircase that leads up to the next deck, or the Terrace Room, where you can sit and get a birds-eye view of the pool and the wake of the ship.
The main show lounge found onboard is the Carousel Lounge, where all the feature shows are held. In this lounge the seating (made up of fixed couches and small tables) forms a semi-circle around the stage and is sloped so the people in the back of the lounge can see the stage.
Many small intimate lounges are found onboard. I saw the ghost of Isaac concocting the daily specials and offering love advice at the Pool Bar. My favorite was the Starlight Lounge and Bar, located above the navigation bridge and offering a wonderful panoramic view. Other lounges include The Carousel Bar, located at the entrance to the show lounge (but you can not see the show from here), and the Pacific Bar, located at the entrance of the Pacific Lounge (part of a lounge called the Pacific Club). Each of these bars offers a seating area and lounging areas by large windows.
The Pirates Cove reminded me of a small cozy local tavern with a dance floor. To enter the Pirates Cove, you have to walk through the only casino onboard, the Crown Casino, found on the port (left) side of the ship. On the starboard (right) side is the Bridge Lounge, one of the largest card/game rooms I have seen on a ship of this size. Next to this lounge is the Princess Theatre movie theater.
Let's not forget the bar by the Crystal Pool, the second pool on board. It is rare to find two pools on a ship this size; however, both pools are small. A retractable dome can enclose the centrally located crystal pool area during cool or inclement weather. The aft pool offers an open deck area for all you sun worshipers.
The Pacific Club Bar - Photo by K. Krenz
There are two dining options onboard the Pacific Princess. There is a casual buffet for breakfast and lunch located by the Crystal Pool, with an enclosed air-conditioned seating area available if you don't want to eat outside. The other dining area is the Coral Dining Room, centrally located on the lowest passenger deck. Dining rooms on older ships were usually located in this area because it is considered to be one of the most stable areas of the ship. The Coral Dining Room is very basic--you will not see any fancy embellishments here--but the 5-course lunch we were served here was very tasty.
The cabins are very typical of a ship built in this era. We were able to see the suites, the basic ocean-view and inside cabins. The basic cabins are very small, but the designers made very good use of space. A typical ocean-view cabin has a single bed along the wall below the portholes, and by day this bed serves as a couch. The second bed folds down from one of the walls and is kept closed during the day, giving you more space to move about the cabin. (This is the first ship I've been on with this feature.) The average cabin also has a small tiled bathroom with a shower, room safe, TV, closet and vanity.
Other features found onboard are the Medical Center, Library, Princess Boutique and gymnasium.
The Pacific Princess offers many unique itineraries because of her smaller size. She cruised the Black Sea, Mediterranean/Aegean, Holy Land, West Africa (offering safari cruisetours), East Africa, India and Bermuda. Currently she will cruise Bermuda for the 2002 season and then will be retired from Princess Cruises' fleet.
--K Krenz MCC
Cruise on the Pacific Princes during her last season "Bermuda 2002" This is the end of an era in cruising history!
Call today for to book your Bermuda 2002 cruise vacation. Cruise round-trip from New York City to Bermuda with round-trip bus transportation available from many North-Eastern cities.
More Photos of the Pacific Princess (Click on the names below.)
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