ABOARD THE SKY PRINCESS -- If the Sky Suites on the new Sky
Princess and follow-on ships in the Princess Cruises fleet are a success, it
won't be because the suites are enormously spacious or chock-full of
over-the-top luxury amenities.
What stands out about the two suites is their positioning on
Deck 18 and their unprecedented balcony layout.
Each of the two suites features 1,000 feet of balcony
wrapped around three sides of the suite.
A view of the pool deck from the balcony of one of the Sky Suites, while the Sky Princess was sailing out of Trieste, Italy.
The front elevation faces aft and offers a view of the pool
deck worthy of a Roman emperor. It is not the most private view, so if privacy
is an important part of a guest's concept of a luxury suite, these may not fit
Instead, they are more a way of displaying the exclusivity
of your accommodation. Everyone from the pool deck can look up and get a
glimpse of where they could be for $7,000. (The Sky Suites start at $7,000 per
person for a seven-day cruise, and some dates are still available for summer in
Europe and fall in the Caribbean.)
The other view from the front elevation is that of the
Movies Under the Stars LED screen, which is just about at eye-level on the
opposite site of the pool deck.
The side elevation is a long walk along the ocean, high
above the waterline. To the rear, which is actually toward the bow of the ship,
there is a seating area separated from the rest of Deck 18 by an opaque white
wall. There is a large-screen TV and a big clamshell lounger that swivels to
look out over the water.
The Sky Suites have a skylight that features an unusual contemporary chandelier. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
The Sky Suites are the tip of the spear of Princess Cruises’
new Celebration Initiative. Bookings come with a menu of services, some
complimentary and some fee-extra, that are intended to help celebrate an
anniversary, a birthday or other big occasion.
The coolest menu item in the Celebrate Under the Stars
package may be the ability to pick the Movie Under the Stars showing for the
entire ship. Sky Suite guests don't have carte blanche. In most cases, there's
a limited selection to choose from.
But some guests booking the suites have a marriage proposal
in mind. "In that case, we will work with them to customize the movie," said
Victoria Buccholz, who is overseeing the Celebration Initiative as director of
marketing strategy and special projects at Princess.
Other celebration amenities are live acoustic music, a
stargazing experience and special meals.
The Sky Suite balcony includes this seating area, which has a large-screen TV and a swiveling clamshell lounger. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
Pricing for many of the amenities is still a work in
progress. In one example, a mixologist from the Good Spirits bar can set up a
bar and mix drinks for an hour or two for about $300.
The Sky Suites also come with a "suite experience manager"
whose role is to act as a private concierge for suite guests, helping them to
fashion a suite experience as close to their personal vision of their vacation