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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Grand Princess becomes even grander after extensive transformation

Out to Sea newspaper/web column for June 25/11

   (c) By Jim and Barb Fox
   The Grand Princess, sporting a new streamlined silhouette after an extensive transformation, is shown leaving Port Everglades, Florida.
   Something old is new again as the Grand Princess has undergone the "most-significant transformation ever" of a Princess Cruises' ship.
   The makeover of the grand ship required 1,400 contractors working around the clock for 24 days in the line’s most-extensive dry-dock ever.
   Now back making waves again, the Grand Princess left Ft. Lauderdale last month for a transatlantic crossing to her summer and fall homeport of Southampton, from which she is sailing on a variety of European itineraries.

   Passengers are praising the makeover that included adding the signature Piazza atrium and the physical removal of the top-of-the-ship Deck 18 Skywalker Nightclub.
   This was replaced with the club One5 on Deck 15 while Leaves, a tea lounge and library, and Alfredo's, a full-service pizzeria, and Crown Grill were added.
Grand Princes in Port Canaveral, Fla.
   View the makeover on-line
   The website (www.princess.com/granddrydock/index.html) documents the transformation by each day.
   Video and photos from the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahama include the removal of the nightclub from the stern and the demolition and rebuilding of the atrium to create the Piazza.
   The "monumental effort” has created a “sparkling new ship” in advance of its season of Europe sailings, said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice-president.
Passengers relax in Grand Princess’ new Piazza atrium that now features the International Cafe, Vines wine bar and Alfredo’s Pizzeria.

   The renovation also included seven new window suites; a remodelled casino, boutiques and art gallery; enhancements to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa and wedding chapel; and the addition of Crooner's Martini Lounge.
   There was also work on the underside of the ship and to upholstery, the engine control room, adding a shore power connection, lifeboat updates, new speakers for Movies under the Stars, a mural painting and theatre renovations.
   "When Grand Princess was launched (in 1998), she was the most innovative ship at sea and now we're adding some of the later innovations we introduced on subsequent ships,” Swartz said.
   The ship was the prototype for the line's "Grand Class" vessels and was the largest built at the time, carrying 3,100 passengers.
Grand Princess’ new Piazza atrium
   From Nov. 19, the ship will sail on a variety of Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale through the winter.

   Work starts on Royal Princess
   Meanwhile, construction continues on the Royal Princess to debut in the spring of 2013 and carry 3,600 passengers.
   This will be the first of two new-generation Princess ships with a design called “an evolution of the line's classic style of ships.”
    It will have an over-the-water SeaWalk that’s a top-deck, glass-bottomed enclosed walkway on the ship's starboard side extending out beyond the edge of the vessel for dramatic views.
   On the port side will be a cantilevered SeaView bar, featuring cocktails with unbeatable vistas while on the top decks are an adults-only pool surrounded by seven plush private cabanas that appear to be floating on the water.
   Two additional pools will flank a tropical island that will offer pool seating by day, while at night will become an outdoor dance club with a dazzling water and light show.
   The Sanctuary, an adults-only haven, will be expanded in size and amenities while the popular poolside theatre will be mid-ship with an expanded size and high-definition viewing. www.princess.com; 1-800-PRINCESS.
    The latest addition to the Carnival fleet is the Carnival Magic shown here in Venice, Italy.
   Carnival Magic sets sail
   Carnival Cruise Lines latest ship, Carnival Magic, has just completed its maiden voyage in the Mediterranean and is the 100th vessel in the company’s fleet of 10 cruise line brands.
   The 3,690-passenger Magic has numerous innovations including the RedFrog Pub, a colourful Caribbean-inspired watering hole featuring its own private-label draught beer.
   There’s also Cucina del Capitano, a family-style Italian restaurant, and SportSquare, an expansive open-air recreation complex and outdoor fitness area.
   Other features include a WaterWorks aqua park with a huge spiral waterslide and other attractions; the Lanai, a wraparound promenade with an outdoor barbeque area and whirlpools that extend out over the ship’s sides; and Ocean Plaza, an indoor/outdoor cafe and live entertainment spot.
   The ship will sail a series of Mediterranean departures from Barcelona through Oct. 16 and then reposition to Galveston, Texas for year-round seven-day Caribbean departures beginning Nov. 14. www.carnival.com; 1-800-CARNIVAL.


Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at outtosea50@hotmail.com

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