Sky Princess Christened

From the christening of the Sky Princess

Princess Cruises christened its newest ship the Sky Princess today in a tribute to the pioneering women of the U.S. Space Program.

Princess Cruises chose the theme of Reach for the Sky for the occasion and honoured two women of NASA for their achievements in the U.S. space program: Captain Kay Hire, and engineer Frances “Poppy” Northcutt, who served as the godmothers of the Sky Princess.

From the christening of the Sky Princess

Captain Hire began her 30-year NASA career as a mechanical systems engineer, helping to launch more than 40 space missions. Then, as an astronaut, she logged 700 hours in space, flew over 12 million miles, and orbited the earth 475 times. She was the first female assigned to a military combat flight crew while serving in the U.S. Navy. And, she retired from the U.S. Navy with more 35 years of service. Poppy Northcutt served as the first female mission control engineer when NASA made history with its mission to the moon. When the crew of Apollo 13 became stranded in their service module, it was her team’s calculations that brought them home safely – a feat of heroism that earned the entire mission operations a Presidential Medal of Freedom Team Award.

“As we celebrate our newest, most technologically advanced ship – one whose spirit of adventure and discovery match the grandeur of her name, Sky Princess, we also applaud the groundbreaking women of the U.S. Space Program,” said Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz. “Our godmothers, Captain Kay Hire and Poppy Northcutt, remind us all of what we can achieve when we reach for the sky.”

From the christening of the Sky Princess

Sky Princess Captain Heikki Laakkonen also recognized two Sky Princess female officers who embody the Reach for the Sky theme, striving for success in leadership positions –Kerry Ann Wright, who started working in the cruise industry as a spa technician and went back to school to rise through the ranks to become a Second Officer working on the bridge; and Chief Security Officer Susan Morgan, who is the longest-serving woman in the British Royal Navy.

Captain Hire and Poppy Northcutt, recited the traditional cruise ship blessing before pushing a NASA-style “launch” button releasing and smashing a 15-litre bottle of champagne, officially naming Sky Princess.

Additional women of NASA recognized in a tribute video, included:
• The first woman of colour to travel to outer space, Dr. Mae Jemison.
• The first Hispanic woman in space who later became Director of the Johnson Space Center Dr. Ellen Ochoa.
• The first woman to command the Space Shuttle Eileen Collins.
• The first woman to command the International Space Stations Peggy Whiston.
• The first woman to join a spacewalk, Kathryn D. Sullivan.

The ceremony featured entertainment adding to the exciting bottle break moment, including Princess Cruises Celebrations Ambassador and Love Boat actress Jill Whelan, serving as ceremony co-host with Sky Princess Cruise Director Alexander Yepremian; and performance of Dream On from America’s Got Talent Alum, Brian Justin Crum. The finale of the naming ceremony included a performance of This is Me from The Greatest Showman and featured in the cruise line’s new production show Rock Opera.

The new Princess ship is now sailing on voyages to the Caribbean through spring 2020.

Princess Cruises claims Medallion Net offers ‘best WiFi at sea’

Image result for Medallion Net

Princess Cruises claims it has rolled out the “best WiFi at sea” which will help attract new-to-cruise passengers.

Princess Cruises has fitted nine ships with Medallion Net WiFi so far and plans to complete rolling it out across its fleet by July next year.

The WiFi will power the line’s Ocean Medallion technology, which is fitted on new ship Sky Princess.

Speaking onboard the ship during its shakedown cruise from Trieste to Athens, Prag Shah, the line’s global head, experience and innovation, said: “One of the biggest detractors people have of cruising – like the younger generation – is that they cannot be connected as well as on a land-based holiday.

“Millennials always like to be posting and sharing their experiences with everybody.

“We wanted to make connectivity onboard better and a lot of effort and creativity went in to do that. From a cruising standpoint, being able to promote and sell longer cruises brings another type of cruiser into the equation.”

John Padgett, Carnival Corporation’s chief experience and innovation officer, addressed media and travel agents via the internet to demonstrate the connection strength on the new vessel.

He said: “There are no longer any sacrifices by coming on a cruise vacation. Cruise holidays have been an amazing value for years, but you have tended to sacrifice this feeling of connectivity.

“There are no longer any sacrifices there. We are the only cruise line that offers anything like this. I want you to use as much bandwidth as you like because that makes your experience better.”

Padgett told the audience Medallion Net, which costs $9.99 per day, as the “best WiFi at sea”.

Sky Princess is the first of the line’s vessels which was built with Ocean Medallion. Several guest services, including ordering food and drink anywhere on the ship, locating friends and family, and navigating your way around the vessel are available through the wearable technology.

The line has retrofitted four of its existing ships with Ocean Medallion.

When asked what developments would be made to Ocean Medallion technology going forward, Shah said: “Personalising [Ocean Medallion] is going to be where we are putting a lot more focus [in 2020].”

A first look at Sky Princess, a sister with some distinction

The aft WakeView Pool has an infinity pool appearance and is an outdoor gathering spot.

The aft WakeView Pool has an infinity pool appearance and is an outdoor gathering spot. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

As the fourth in a class of ships that Princess Cruises began introducing in 2013, the Sky Princess will be familiar in many ways to travel agents.

But there are a couple of newly designed areas and some new wrinkles, along with 50 more cabins that aren’t on the three predecessor ships in the class, giving agents a few new things to learn.

The biggest deal about the Sky Princess is the two Sky Suites that have been introduced at the very top of the ship. The 1,873 square feet of space occupied by the suites includes 1,000 square feet of a balcony that extend around the suites, affording a 270-degree view of the surrounding ocean as well as a prime seat for the poolside Movies Under the Stars presentations at night.

A reserved bungalow at Princess Cays, a fancy telescope for stargazing and a “Suite Experience Manager to service your every need” are part of the package.

A second new area on the Sky Princess is Take Five, a theatre for live jazz music, plus educational programming, historical presentations and other events that will make it more than a place just to hear music.

Located across from the casino on Deck 6, Take Five occupies a space that on previous ships have been called Club 6 and included a featured bar and a small dance floor.

The new cabin area has been carved out a forward area on Deck 17 that includes The Sanctuary on previous ships. On the Sky Princess, The Sanctuary moves one deck up to Deck 18, while on 17 a kind of ship-within-the-ship area has been created on three sides of the Neptune Pool. The accommodations are mostly balcony cabins, with eight larger suites for clients with bigger budgets.

The pool deck dancing-waters fountain that made a distinctive debut on the Royal Princess has been abandoned in favour of a hot tub and some patio banquettes.

When it comes to smaller wrinkles, there is a small new WakeView Ppool at the far aft end of the ship on Deck 16, giving a nice experience looking back at where the Sky Princess has been at sea.

There’s a stairway from the pool deck up to the Fitness area one deck above, and then a new mini-golf area one deck above that.

Four new hot tubs have been introduced on decks 17 and 18 that don’t exist on previous ships.

Two aft cabins have been removed on the deck below the WakeView Pool to accommodate its depth.

Some smallish changes have been made in the lineup of shops, restaurants and bars on decks 6 and 7. For example, the Deck 7 Wheelhouse Bar on previous ships has been incorporated into the Crown Grill and becomes the Crown Grill Bar on the Sky Princess.

The Sky Princess' pool deck.

The Sky Princess’ pool deck. Photo Credit: Tom StieghorstThe little dedicated library space that had been located outside the Wheelhouse Bar disappears entirely.

Some features introduced with the Royal Princess in 2013 remain largely unchanged, such as the sizeable World Fresh Marketplace buffet restaurant on Deck 16. 

And the multi-deck Piazza remains an elegant atrium area, with familiar features such as the Vines wine bar, the International Cafe and Sabatini’s restaurant, although the Bellini’s champagne bar has become Good Spirits at Sea, and the Crooner’s piano bar gives way to a new restaurant, Bistro Sur La Mer.