ABOARD THE ROYAL PRINCESS-Our port today is Istanbul. For days, everyone onboard has talked about how beautiful it is to sail into Istanbul. Sailing out of Venice is a tough act to follow, but I have to admit sailing into Istanbul comes a close second.
Our expected time of arrival was 8 a.m., so for anyone wanting to see the great views while arriving, I’d suggest getting up about 6:45 or 7 a.m. The spires of the Blue Mosque are the first to greet you, and the frenetic activity of the port of Istanbul, with ferries crisscrossing from Europe to Asia, can soon be seen. Once again, it was fabulous to simply walk out onto my balcony for the best view of the activity.
Onboard, I visited the Enclave, an area of the Lotus Spa that is available for a separate charge. The Enclave is three times bigger than any other Lotus Spa thermal suite. It features the first ever hydrotherapy pool for Princess Cruise Line, as well as saunas and steam rooms, and heated loungers. Four sensory showers were available that offered different temperature rain, combined with lighting and aromas.
I’m not a big fan of The Enclave. First, the cost of $39 seems a bit high. A half day in The Sanctuary with a relaxation butler catering to your needs costs only $15. Yet a hot tub and saunas is $39 per person. You can stand out on deck in the hot Mediterranean sun for free and still get the same intense heat treatment.
For $40, go to a Winemaker’s Dinner or Super Tuscan Wine Tasting. It’ll last longer and it’s much more enjoyable.
Bringing the price down to $20 seems to make more sense. It is shocking that The Enclave isn’t even an added option with spa treatments, either. Especially really expensive ones, like couples villas that cost several hundred dollars. I asked twice if The Enclave was available after a spa treatment. Both times I was told no. Other spas that I’ve been to offer the same type of hydrotherapy/sauna room for free with spa treatments.
Though the Grand Mediterranean itinerary on the Royal Princess is 12 days long, I’m disembarking in Istanbul, halfway through. The Royal Princess will offer plenty more destinations over the next year or two, including the Caribbean, Scandinavia, the Baltic, Iceland, Canada and New England.
Chances are, there is an opportunity for you to sail on her regardless of where you want to explore.
I am a big fan of Princess Cruises. I have sailed on Princess previously, as well as other cruise lines, and Princess ranks high on the list. Having the chance to explore the cruise line’s newest ship in the fleet was an extraordinary adventure.
I dare say that the activities and opportunities onboard are in direct competition with her amazing itineraries. There is so much to see and enjoy on this beautiful ship.
Princess waited five years to debut a new ship, but wow! Good things do come to those who wait.
Photos and video by Kimberly Button