I knew the exact moment I had found my happy place aboard the Sky Princess—the newest addition to Princess Cruises’ fleet of luxury ships. It was at the tail end of the ship in an infinity-style pool overlooking the wake (or “boat farts,” as my spouse called them) floating blissfully somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Just steps away was the aptly-named Wakeview Bar, where I had procured my first piña colada for the day. Cruise life, y’all. You’d be amazed at how fast it assimilates you.
Though, this was no ordinary cruise. The Sky Princess is the first ship to be built from the ground up to be fully integrated with MedallionClass technology—a personalized, wearable device about the size of a quarter, that, when used with the family of Princess apps, essentially serves as a complete concierge service while on board. (Older ships are currently in the process of being retrofitted.)
In addition to ostensibly being able to have food and beverages ordered to your location anywhere on the ship, the OceanMedallion also serves as your room key, method of payment at shops and restaurants, and keeps you constantly connected to your fellow travel companions.
Or at least that’s the intention. For the purpose of the preview sailing, there were definitely still some minor bugs that still needed to be worked out. But if you can get past the Black Mirror-ness of it all (the device does track your exact location onboard at all times), it has some pretty neat features. Not only do you not need a room key card to get around the ship, but the medallion even greets you as you approach your cabin and automatically unlocks the door.
So, while I may have strolled up to the bar to get that piña colada, I could have just as easily ordered it from my mobile app and had it brought to my perch at the side of the pool.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg—pun certainly not intended. There’s no denying that Sky Princess is an absolutely gorgeous, revolutionary ship. From the moment you enter the Piazza, that much is clear.
Modeled after the vibrant squares of Europe, the hub boasts stunning spiral staircases, ornate marble floors, and countless intricate details. An international cafe serves up gourmet coffee, while just nearby you’ll find the Sky Princess boutiques where you can upgrade your standard medallion lanyard with a variety of fun and stylish accessories. (This writer chose a brightly-colored clip-on.) You might even catch one of the roving street performers known to frequent the Piazza!
Another jaw-dropping feature of the Sky Princess can be found on the main deck, which also serves as a sort of open-air poolside amphitheater with an absolutely enormous digital screen that projects films throughout the day. At night, the space transforms into “Movies Under the Stars,” where guests can enjoy popcorn and cookies while cuddling up under a blanket with loved ones.
Fans of gourmet dining will be happy as a clam, so to speak, aboard the Sky Princess. In addition to the vast buffet serving up international cuisine throughout the day (with mandatory hand washing stations on either end), 24-hour room service, and a number of casual eateries located throughout the ship, the Sky Princess boasts several onsite specialty restaurants.
The newest to Princess Cruises is Bistro Sur La Mer, which comes from Emmanuel Renaut, the 3-star Michelin chef responsible for the famed Flocons de Sel restaurant in the French Alps. The restaurant offers “casual, French bistro-style dining with a modern twist,” with dishes such as fried escargot pesto balls that absolutely just explode with flavor in your mouth. (And should likewise be eaten in one bite, per the server’s recommendation. Your dry cleaning bill will thank you!)
There’s also Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, which puts a spotlight on fresh, handcrafted pasta; Crown Grill, named among the “Best Cruise Ship Steakhouses” by USA Today; and the Chef’s Table Lumiere, a dazzling private dining experience described as an “extraordinary treat for both gastronomes and gourmet novices.”
The innovative use of technology found throughout the Sky Princess is also reflected in the ship’s entertainment. We were fortunate enough to catch a performance of 5-SKIES, a new “theatrical experience” that debuted with the inaugural season. We went in not knowing what to expect—and personally speaking, not exactly a fan of musical theater—yet, were completely blown away.
The production takes place in a virtual reality gaming world, where the hero, ”Gamer 1,” must complete a series of five levels of increasing difficulty to attain the highest level and rescue the so-called “Sky Princess” character. Named one of the cruise line’s most visually advanced shows ever, 5-SKIES features a dazzling array of digital effects, high-flying acrobatics, as well as elaborate, eye-catching costumes and set designs. And with a manageably short, 45-minute duration, there’s plenty of time to take in a bawdy drag show or sing your heart out as karaoke (guilty!) after, as there is no shortage of evening entertainment options aboard the Sky Princess.
Also new to the ship is a groundbreaking “Phantom Bridge” game, which the staff was just putting the finishing touches on during our trip—unique in that it happens to be the first-ever escape room to combine both physical and digital elements for a completely immersive experience using interactive touchscreen technology.
Instead of “escaping,” which is typically the point of an escape room, the Phantom Bridge instead asks players to solve a series of puzzles while traveling across different time periods, with the overall objective to gain as many points as possible. And lest anyone think of “gaming the system,” so to speak, the digital gameplay provides a wholly unique experience with every reset, which also means that you can revisit the game over and over again with different puzzles and outcomes each time.
While the Phantom Bridge is geared towards children and adults of all ages, The Sanctuary is decidedly an adults-only retreat aboard the Sky Princess. The spacious, gorgeous area features private cabanas and hot tubs, as well as a variety of spa treatments such as al fresco massages. My spouse and I enjoyed a relaxing couples’ massage while a light ocean breeze drifted through the cabana. At the completion, the masseuses gently joined our hands and rang a small bell to indicate that the massage was over.
Sadly, we did not get to experience any of the shore excursions during our brief trip, as rocky waters made transporting to the Princess Cays private island hazardous. However, the staff managed to quickly pull together a day of onboard activities to keep guests happy and entertained, despite the disappointment of missing out on a snorkeling experience or cruising around the coastline in a glass-bottomed boat.
But heck—on the upside, that’s more than an excuse for a return visit, which is perhaps why guests return year after year to Princess Cruises. There’s always something fun, exciting and new to experience!