Award-winning travel journalist, Sara Macefield set sail on Princess Cruises, Sky Princess from 22nd to 28th September on a six night sailing from Southampton. Here, she shares her experiences from her time on-board and what guests can expect from this beautiful new ship.

Waking up to a knock at my cabin door, I think I’m still dreaming as I’m greeted by a breakfast bonanza of pastries, fruit and smoked salmon accompanied by a chilled half-bottle of bubbly.

This indulgent start to my final day on Sky Princess is courtesy of Princess Cruises’ signature balcony dining, (which admittedly costs $45 per couple), but is another memorable flourish during this six-night British Isles sailing.

Having only been unveiled in autumn 2019 just a few months before the pandemic struck, Sky Princess still feels like a new ship with its combination of debut features mixed in with established favourites.

Leading the way are two plush new Sky Suites, each sleeping up to five guests and whose 270-degree wrap-around balconies are claimed to be the largest at sea.

With all-encompassing views of the pool deck, Sky Suite guests not only have the best seats in the house for the giant Movies Under the Stars screen opposite, but they even get to choose which movie is shown on one night of the sailing.

Topping the Princess Theatre bill is debut production Rock Opera, showcasing the formidable vocals of its singers as they belt out rock anthems and power ballads, but I’m drawn by the cool sounds and laidback vibe of new jazz bar Take Five where I spend an evening nursing a nightcap to the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

Dining options on this 3,560-passenger ship have also been broadened with the addition of Bistro Sur La Mer ($29pp) where Gallic dishes have been created in partnership with three Michelin-star French chef Emmanuel Renaut.

The menu is styled into la mer (the sea) and la terre (land) with dishes such as lobster bisque, pate, scallops and filet mignon providing a full range of flavours, but my favourite restaurant is still the Crown Grill ($29pp), for its wonderful French onion soup topped with melted cheese and delicious surf and turf combination.

Another Princess hallmark that shines brightly is the Piazza – the hub of the ship in the glitzy three-deck atrium that buzzes with life throughout the day and into the evening as a popular coffee and drinks stop.

I loved dropping in after returning from excursions, ordering a caffe latte and selecting savoury snacks and sweet pastries from the nearby International Café while listening to beautiful classical performances by the resident musicians.

But there’s relaxation of a different kind in The Enclave thermal suite in the ship’s Lotus Spa where the jets and bubbles of the hydrotherapy pool form an irresistible focal point to this sybaritic haven with sizzling steam rooms and heated mosaic beds, that are perfect for dozing off on.

Outside is pampering haven The Sanctuary, an adults-only retreat of plush sunbeds, cabanas and an attentive team of “serenity stewards”.

The fine weather tempts me there for the afternoon (half-day passes are $20 and full-day are $40) and I opt for an al fresco hot stone massage in the on-deck cabana where the breeze tickles my shoulder blades and sunlight filters through the canvas ceiling flaps.

I emerge in a soporific state sometime later, collapsing on to one of the sunbeds before realising that afternoon tea is being served with all the trimmings. It’s the sweetest of ways to end the day.

Explore itineraries and find your perfect sailing on-board Princess Cruises, Sky Princess here.

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Sara Macefield
Sara Macefield
Sara Macefield is an award-winning travel journalist of more than 20 years standing, and has spent the last decade writing about the cruise industry – exploring the world's oceans and rivers on ships of all sizes. Having notched up more than 100 cruises, her most memorable trips have been to Alaska with its superb wildlife, and sailing along Burma’s remote Chindwin River to villages far off the tourist track. She writes regularly for The Times and Daily Telegraph and has written for the Daily Mail, The Guardian, Daily Express and Woman & Home Magazine.

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