Cruise ship makeover: come along for the ride

There are new cruise ships and there are old cruise ships. The new ones have all the latest features, the old ones not so much. Well, at least not until they go in for scheduled maintenance. At that time, the cruise line has an opportunity to take care of routine repairs. Sometimes they add new features to those old ships, making them much more attractive to would-be cruise travelers looking for new features. Princess Cruises announced an extreme makeover for Grand Princess in February. Now, the line wants us to come along for the ride with a new series of video reports.

Grand Princess is going through the most significant transformation ever attempted by Princess Cruises. The ship will take on a new look with the addition of seven new suites, a remodeled casino, boutiques and art gallery, enhancements to the Horizon Court buffet area, Lotus Spa, and wedding chapel plus the addition of Crooner’s Martini Lounge.

The line will also remove Skywalkers nightclub, the race car spoiler-looking venue perched high above the aft end of the ship. Apparently the place did nothing for fuel economy and/or did not get enough “Wow, that’s cool” comments at the ship wash.

Through May 4th, viewers can follow along with daily updates to a new video journal chronicling the 24-day drydock.

“Our passengers really loved following the photo journals we offered during previous drydocks,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “So for this, our most extensive transformation, we wanted to take it to the next level and enable viewers to follow along with daily videos.”

Hosted by Grand Princess Cruise Director Martyn Moss, in the first installment audiences we see the beginning of the ship’s transformation as it sails to the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas.

We’re thinking Skywalkers would make a great place to visit while ashore in Freeport. A couple welders and a big crane could probably pop that baby off the ship and set it on the beach. At least there would be something worth seeing in Freeport.

Cruise ship gets extreme makeover

Cruise ships go in for routine, scheduled maintenance from time to time to take care of things they just can’t do with passengers on board. Cruise lines often take advantage of this time with no passengers on board to replace worn carpets or upgrade ship amenities. This is also a time when popular features on new ships can be added.
This Spring, Princess Cruises will pull Grand Princess out of service for much more than normal, week-long routine maintenance in what can best be described as an extreme makeover.

The 24-day process will not just change the carpets and put a fresh coat of paint on walls. As a result of this transformation, passengers who have sailed on Grand Princess before may not recognize her after completion.

“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.”

%Gallery-116296%The changes will be made during a drydock at the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas from April 11 to May 4.

One5 Lounge – The new One5 lounge will replace Skywalkers, known as the best disco at sea, as the place to be for nighttime dancing and relaxing. I mean “replace” as in they are cutting it off the ship. This was the area all the way at the back of the ship that looked like the spoiler on a hot race car. It was also an excellent observation lounge to see far out over the ocean and favorite spot for underage drinkers to try to sneak into.

The new One5 lounge on deck 15 takes its inspiration from the chicest urban nightclubs, and will offer a cool vibe, contemporary seating and lighting, and a dramatic back-lit bar. This I have to see. An aerial view of the ship once this transformation has occurred will reveal an open, airy look to the back with an almost aquatheater-like openness.

Highlights of the other new additions bring Grand Princess up to speed with the newest ships in the fleet. New to this ship will be the Piazza Atrium combining always-changing quick bites and light meals, beverages, entertainment, shopping and guest services. The Piazza will feature an International Cafe for pastries, grilled panini sandwiches, salads, fresh-baked cookies and a variety of coffee drinks. Princess is also adding 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 – What a great idea. Libraries on cruise ships are one of the least-used areas but yet they continue to stock the latest novels and have a nice selection for guests to choose from. Now, this new space will offer 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 offer up to 500 different tea blends and a trained tea sommelier will be on hand.

Alfredo’s Pizzeria – a new sit-down pizzeria with made-to-order 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.

Crown Grill
– A classic steakhouse with rich wood surroundings, this specialty restaurant features an open, theater-style kitchen where chefs custom-prepare a menu of premium aged beef and fresh seafood items, including live lobsters.

Princess stays a first-class cruise line by keeping ships up-to-date with a keen awareness of what their passengers are looking for. Like their dominance in the Alaska Cruisetour market, Princess will do whatever it takes to be a leader in all they do.