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star princess cruise ship photos
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Star Princess Facts & Figures
Owner/Operator:Princess Cruises
Year built:2002
Builder:Fincantieri, Monfalcone, Italy
Former names:-
Gross Tonnage:108,806
Length:289.0 m (951.4 ft)
Beam:36.0 m (118.1 ft)
Passengers (normal):2,592
Passengers (maximum):3,300
Crew:1,100
Service speed:22.5 kn
Sister Ships:Grand Princess, Golden Princess
Star Princess Photo Gallery
star princess cruise ship photos star princess cruise ship photos star princess cruise ship photos star princess cruise ship photos
From the ShipParade Archives: Star Princess On Board Report
All photos and text: © 2005 Bart de Boer (unless otherwise noted)
This article was first published on July 9, 2005. Decor, services and amenities might have changed since publication

Princess Cruises goes global! The wind-blown coiffure of the “sea witch” that became world-famous in the TV hit show “The Love Boat” can these days been seen on dozens of funnels in hundreds of far-flung ports around the world. And just as bold as Princess Cruises' global conquest is their ship design. When Grand Princess, first of the 100,000+ ton Grand Class vessels, entered service comparisons with a floating shopping cart were often made. Making good use of her futuristic looks Star Princess, the third in the series, was welcomed with open arms for a maiden call at the port of Rotterdam on May 12, 2005. A good opportunity for ShipParade.com to go "star gazing" on board!

Built in 2002 by Fincantieri in Monfalcone, Italy, Star Princess is the third vessel in the “Grand Class” series, known for its unconventional look with an eye catching nightclub hovering 15 decks above the stern. Princess has been quick to show off their 108,000 ton "Grand class" vessels around the globe. Despite her relatively young age, Star Princess has been spotted in Australia, the Orient, Mediterranean and Caribbean. And in 2005 Princess decided to bring the ship to Northern Europe. On a beautiful Thursday in May  the 2,500 guest Star Princess ventured up the New Waterway and docked in downtown Rotterdam for the very first time.

The Lord Major was there. One of Holland's most popular singers entertained guests on board. The Port of Rotterdam arranged for a complimentary shuttle to the downtown shopping area. Still, many guests ventured up to rivaling Amsterdam for the day or elected to go pottery crazy in nearby Delft. And with the ship almost deserted, it is about time to start our ShipTour!

Please note Star Princess was fully booked during our visit. Therefore we could not inspect any staterooms.

Star Princess in Rotterdam - this photos © Cees de Bijl
Star Princess and Rotterdam's landmark; the Euromast - this photo © Cees de Bijl

First place to go “star gazing” is the 3-deck high Grand Plaza, located amidships on the lowest passenger decks. This is where most guests will enter the vessel. With its marble, glass and wood paneling the Grand Plaza is sure to make a lasting impression of grandeur and luxury. Twin glass elevators zoom up and down behind eclectic metal decorations,  there is soft piano music playing and with a grand staircase connecting all three levels, you will end up here no matter where you go on the ship.

At the lowest level of the Grand Plaza, you will find a number of essential facilities. On Plaza Deck there is one of two Reception Desks, an expansive Shore Excursion Desk and a small Library (with very few books, but hey, who needs books if there are comfortable chairs to doze off in?). Around the corner is a nice Card Room and even an old-fashioned Writing Room - hardly appropriate in today’s computerized world. On the port side is the pleasant Lobby Bar, which serves as a natural meeting point and a perfect place to enjoy pre-dinner drinks while waiting for a table in the Capri Dining Room, which is one of two identical restaurants operating on Princess’ innovative Anytime Dining program.

On almost all Princess ships, you can choose the dining program which suites you best. Star Princess boasts three main dining rooms which all serve the same food and provide the same good service. While the Amalfi Dining Room on Fiesta Deck aft operates with two traditional dinner seatings, both the Capri and Portofino Dining Rooms offer Anytime Dining. You just show up at the entrance of the restaurant and indicate whether you would like a table for two. Four. Six. Eight! As soon as a table is available, you will be beeped and off you go. Buon Appetito!

All three dining rooms have a similar layout and ambiance. With oversized classical-looking murals (at closer look they seem rather amateurishly) and soft, wood trimmed furniture, dining is always a pleasure and if our three-course Port Luncheon was anything to go by, Star Princess will not disappoint you food-wise. Service is generally sound, but Anytime Dining means you will have a different waiter for each meal which take away the waiter-guest bonding that so many cruise passengers enjoy. Oh, and if you hate to sit between cleared tables, you'd better choose the Traditional option.   

Plaza Deck reception area

Plaza Deck reception area
Grand Plaza
Art Gallery - chock-a-block

Grand Plaza

Grand Plaza

Reading Room
Portofino Dining Room
Portofino Dining Room
Portofino Dining Room
 

Entertainment with a capital E! Grouped together on two full decks are Star Princess’ major entertainment areas. And spanning the height of these two decks is the ship’s huge showroom, comfortably seating 750 guests. With no pillars to block the view, this is the place to see the upbeat musical extravaganzas that Princess has become famous for. 

The room’s main entrance is on Promenade Deck, reached either directly from the Sterling Steakhouse or via a port side corridor that also houses the Internet Café and Princess Circle Club. The layout of the Sterling Steakhouse is rather odd. It is an open plan restaurant that is right in the ship's main passageway from fore to aft. With its bar, band stand and dance floor the room looks more like a Country & Western dance club and the Tex-Mex look of the carpeting and artwork does not help here. Actually, when Star Princess entered service, this was The Painted Desert Restaurant. Recently, Princess decided a steakhouse would make better sense. The line charges a fee for guests wanting to dine here.   

On Fiesta Deck avid gamblers will find their place of refuge in the Atlantis Casino. Windowless, noisy and colorful, just like gambling fans like it! True to its name, the casino has an underwater theme that can best be seen in the intriguing carpeting. Thirsty souls will be pleased to know there is a bar in the middle of the Atlantis Casino, so nobody has to miss out on the action

Walking right through the Atlantis Casino, one arrives in the forward of three stair towers, with four elevators and wide staircases. Non-obtrusive paintings adorn all stair towers, made to blend in with the rest of the ship. All the way forward on Fiesta Deck is the Princess Theatre, reached through a very attractive passageway with an almost hidden entrance to Shooters, Star Princess’ cavernous Sports Bar. If you look up at the ceiling you will see an upside down pool table! Sports fans will love the huge monitors broadcasting major events. And just like the gamblers, the sports fans will need to look inside rather than out as there is not a window to be found.

Atlantis Casino

Atlantis Casino
Princess Theatre
Princess Theatre

Princess Theatre

Speech by the Captain

Fiesta Deck entrance to the Princess Theatre
Internet Café
Sterling Steakhouse
Sterling Steakhouse

Surrounded by an attractive wrap-around open deck, the aptly named Promenade Deck houses some of Star Princess’ most attractive public rooms. Starting at the Grand Plaza we first hit the Promenade Lounge & Bar. The layout of the area makes it an integral part of the atrium and the perfect place to sit down and watch the goings-on.

In my reviews of Grand Princess and Golden Princess, I have mentioned the awful safari-inspired artwork in the passageway next to Explorer’s. I'm afraid it hasn’t gotten any better on Star Princess. In fact, the three sister ships are so much alike that  most guests will not notice any differences. Colors, materials; even the artwork looks remarkably similar. Explorer’s has a large stage and dance floor, with a gently sloping floor which allows good sightlines from most seats. The theme here is “multi-cultural”, with sarcophagus in one corner of the room and an Out of Africa look in the other. Despite the tacky artwork, the result is actually quite pleasing, not in the least because of the intimate lighting arrangement that creates a sense of  coziness.  

My personal favorite is the Wheelhouse Bar, a Princess hallmark. Done in a nautical style with lots of maritime paintings, memorabilia and overstuffed chairs, the Wheelhouse Bar is a very inviting room and most popular at night. In the early evening, go here for pre-dinner drinks. And after dinner, you'll want to return for a bit of dancing on the dance floor!  

Right next door to the Wheelhouse is Sabatini’s Trattoria, Star Princess’ Italian eatery. Portions are enormous and worth the hefty surcharge for most. Passing the Photo Gallery and Photo Shop, we venture further aft eventually ending up in the Vista Show lounge. I really like the look of this room. The design is rather traditional and is similar to many secondary show lounges on other ships, but the combination of marble, chrome and wood trim give the Vista Show lounge a distinct edge. The result is really pleasing and works well. Go here to see the Cruise Staff in action at wild & wacky participation games. Princess also stages smaller production shows at the Vista Lounge.

Explorer's

Explorer's
Explorer's with not-to-be-missed Art Auction junk
Wheelhouse Bar

Wheelhouse Bar

Explorer's

Wheelhouse Bar
Entrance to the Vista Showlounge
Vista Showlounge
Vista Showlounge

Pool time! If you like swimming, working up a tan or just lounging by the pool, look no further. Star Princess has a choice of no less than four sweet water swimming pools (plus six whirlpools) that are yours around the clock for a quick dip or more serious workouts. Fore, amidships or aft, day or night; there is always a pool nearby. Splash!

Starting with the most popular sun-drenched hotspot we venture up to Lido Deck where you will find the Neptune's Reef & Pool. Dominating this attractive pool area is a large sculpture of two killer whales. The actual swimming pool is of a decent size, but together with the adjacent wading area the Pool Deck looks like one big aquatic fun zone. The twin spas, pool bar, pizzeria, and outdoor grill will please most guests, as will the ample supply of cushioned lounge chairs. However, an arguably nicer, more peaceful place to enjoy the sunshine and still have all action (and music) at an arm's length is found on the attractive open deck overlooking the main pool deck. This sun deck comes with its own open air bar. 

Walking aft from Neptune's Pool, you pass by the amidships stair tower and Scoops Ice Cream Parlor. The Häagen Dazs ice cream that is served here is not included in the cruise fare, so be prepared to have your cruise card ready! Further forward is Princess' answer to Royal Caribbean's Solarium pools. The Calypso Pool serves as the second main pool, covered by a glass roof that slides into the base of the funnel if the weather is nice. Sporting a similar look as the Neptune Pool, the Calypso Pool will attract a slightly older crowd. Two decks high, it has a very pleasant conservatory feel to it. 

Further aft on Lido Deck is the Horizon Court, Star Princess' 24-hour casual eatery. Princess was the first major cruise line to introduce "around the clock dining" in their casual restaurants. Long and narrow with rather cramped buffet areas, the layout of the Horizon Court is not perfect. Still, the glass walls provide a stunning look out and the now familiar furniture, the liberal use of wood paneling and the intriguing "underwater carpeting" make this a very popular room.

All the way aft is the Horizon Terrace, a very attractive alfresco breakfast and lunch spot with a large open-air bar. Shaded by Skywalker's Nightclub overhead, this is a more quiet area complete with plunge pool and a great view of the ship's wake.

Pool Culture...

Neptune's Reef and Pool
Scoops Ice Cream Bar
Calypso Reef and Pool
Calypso Reef and Pool

Calypso Reef and Pool

Neptune's Reef and Pool

Terrace Pool
Aft decks
Princess Court Casual Restaurant
Princess Court
Princess Court

We conclude our Ship Tour of Star Princess with serious "star gazing" from the towering Skywalker's Nightclub, perched high above the stern of the ship on deck 18. By day this room is an attractive, quiet observation lounge but at night its true spirit shows. With the latest in sound & light equipment, Skywalker's Nightclub definitely rocks!

An moving walkway in an oversized glass tube (apparently inspired by the Centre Pompidou in Paris) brings guests to Skywalker's, the most impressive of Star Princess' public rooms. With star studded carpeting and a ceiling full of blinking lights, this is the jewel in the crown of Star Princess. Open until late, Skywalker's attracts the active dancing crowd nightly. 

Star Princess' top decks hold some more surprises. What to think of the fully covered tennis court all the way forward on Sports Deck? Or the rubber-floored jogging track that encircles the court and provides joggers with the best views imaginable. One deck down, guests indulge in the art of wellness in the expansive Lotus Spa. Done in a nice oriental look, the whole forward part of deck 15 is given over to the art of pampering. Here, you will find a Beauty Salon, twin steam rooms, saunas and many treatment rooms. All the way forward is a large gym section and Aerobics area; nestled in the middle of the Lotus Spa is the charming Lap Pool. Surrounded by teak decks, teak wooden loungers and terraces, this is the most grown up of all pools on board.

And so we have come to the end of our morning of "star gazing" on Princess' third Grand Class vessel. In most respects, Star Princess is a carbon copy of her older sisters and indeed you will have to look very closely to discover any differences in layout, decoration and ambiance. If you know Grand Princess or Golden Princess, Star Princess will hardly be a surprise. Which is a pity; I would have loved to see a little character differences in each ship.  Still, a cruise is not only about the "hardware"; the "software" is possibly more important. And in that respect, Star Princess might well be the friendliest of the Grand triplets!

Skywalker's Nightclub

Skywalker's Nightclub
Skywalker's Nightclub
Center Court with jogging track

Erasmus Bridge seen from Skywalker's Nightclub

Skywalker's Nightclub

Glass-enclosed walkway to Skywalker's Nightclub
Lap Pool
Lap Pool and Center Court
Rotterdam highrise competing with Princess highrise
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