We were on the Sky Princess February 15th-22nd (Western Caribbean). DH and I are both in our early 60s and this was our 9th cruise on Princess. We really like the Grand Class ships, but decided to try the Sky and check out the Royal class. Usually our objective for cruising is the itinerary first (preferably Princess) and then the ship. However, this cruise, our main objective was a brief escape from winter---mission accomplished for that!
Most Sky reviews seemed to be very positive about everything and while it is a beautiful ship and we enjoyed ourselves, there were things that we really missed from past Princess cruises.
The Sky Princess is a beautiful ship. Since we love using our balcony and we knew the Royal class balconies are tiny, we booked one of the Premium Deluxe balconies in the Aft side section. The stateroom was very nice with a small loveseat (so we didn’t have to fret over the missing barrel chair) and a HUGE balcony. I didn’t measure it, but it was at least as big as the balconies on the Grand Class ships Caribe deck.
Captain Tuovo (Bye-Bye) was so fun. I have never paid attention to Captains on cruises before, but he is definitely in a class by himself. One morning there was ‘Coffee with the Captain’ in the Piazza and it was one of the most entertaining parts of the cruise.
We had Anytime dining and ate all of our dinners in the Soliel Dining Room. The times we eat dinner tends to vary by the cruise we are on and I never know until we are on the ship what that will be. Often it is around 7, but this trip, we ate earlier, usually sometime between 5 and 6. The main reason for this was that we often wanted to get to the 8:00 show in the Princess Theater. The service in the dining room was FANTASTIC! It was the fastest service on any of our cruises! We always got a table for 2 and were always out of the dining room within 60-75 minutes. We had several different servers and always the same fast service. I ordered a glass of wine each evening and that too came really quickly! We started thinking the servers were reading our minds as the food came out so quickly! I don’t know if there was a process change made on the Sky or why the service was so fast, but I hope they do the same on the rest of their fleet!
We saw 3 shows in the Princess theater: Rock Opera, 5 Skies and singer Stephanie Hodgdon ‘Rock ‘n Royalty’. For Rock Opera, we arrived 45 minutes ahead of the start time and the theater was ¾ full. For 5 Skies, we decided we better get there an hour early. The doors were locked, so people were lined up at the door. I think if Princess continues to add to the number of passengers on their ships, but not make the theater any bigger, they really should perform their shows 3 times a day---perhaps they could do a matinee or otherwise earlier than the 8:00 show? I thought Rock Opera was very good, DH thought it was OK. 5 Skies was ‘different’. My description of it would be a Broadway version of an online Game. Apparently, it was not enjoyed by several people. About 15 minutes into it, there was a technical difficulty and they had to turn on the house lights. While they were fixing it, several people got up and left…. We did stay and I think we both thought it was OK---not great---but not awful either. Stephanie Hodgdon had performed a show earlier in the week which we missed. The one we saw was the last night of the cruise, which was unfortunate for her as the theater was only half full---maybe everyone was packing? We did enjoy that show.
This was our big disappointment on the ship. The new Take Five lounge was very nice. We listened to Jazz a couple of nights---not our favorite genre, but ok. Generally, on cruises, in the evening we locate where the ‘party band’ is playing and listen to their music. There was a party band on the ship – Static—but it was rare to find them playing anywhere before about 10:30 at night and even then only occasionally. I really don’t understand what Princess is doing? I assumed since this was a bigger ship with more passengers, Princess would have MORE entertainment in many venues. Instead, I think there was less entertainment than any ship I have been on. The only time we saw Static was one time in the Piazza. I don’t ‘get’ the emphasis on the Piazza. It’s great that there is more room for Vines, the International Café, Bellinis, etc. so more often you could find a seat. However, as a place to watch entertainment---I just don’t get it. Very few tables and chairs have a good view of the entertainment and even if you might when it starts, there likely will be someone standing in front of you unless you are right in the middle circle. It is also very loud with people talking and walking through, etc.
If you looked at the Princess Patter each day, you would think there was a lot going on in the evening. Then you looked more closely and realized that many of the listings were for Un-hosted Get-Togethers of various groups, Lotus Spa Clinics, Art Gallery, Photo & Video Gallery or Shops of Princess. Those categories aren’t really what I would call Entertainment. We did enjoy the Marriage Match Gameshow, but like everything else, we arrived an hour early to be sure we got a seat. If Princess continues to build ships with more passengers, but offers less options for evening entertainment, the options available will continue to be more and more crowded. Also, I thought with the Medallions and the upgraded WiFi, Princess was trying to attract the next generation (or maybe even mine?), but when there are such limited options of any music newer than the 1950s, I just don’t see how that will happen.
The Sky is a beautiful ship, but we missed the wrap-around promenade deck, the multiple venues in the evening providing entertainment (Wheelhouse, Crooners, Explorers Lounge, Skywalkers). If there is a choice, we will be booking on the older Grand class ships. However, itinerary is usually the most important---so our next cruise will be on the Regal---another “new to us” ship. I am hoping for a bit better evening entertainment in the lounges, but if not, our objective for that is mainly the itinerary with not many sea days, so I am sure we will have a good cruise.