Princess has been a leader, transitioning what it calls the “piazza” on its ships into a central hang-out spot — home to the pizzeria, wine bar, coffee café and entertainment.
On Royal Princess, the three-deck central piazza is about 50 percent larger than the largest on the line’s other ships.
“Strategically we have identified the atrium, the piazza, as a significant icon/hallmark of our brand,” says Caluori, adding the move was stimulated by a change in passenger behavior.
“I think the days of going to dinner, going to the show and going to the nightclub are over. People enjoy staying in one place that gives them pleasure, and they don’t want to move from it,” he says. “I can see on the Royal passengers hanging out in the atrium with a glass of champagne at the Bellini’s bar, a plate of seafood at the seafood bar, maybe then going for a pizza and hanging out in the atrium.”
On Breakaway, as on Epic, Norwegian also replaces the traditional tall atrium in favor of a three-story interior hang-out , with food, drink and entertainment options nearby.
“It forces people to stay out and want to have fun,” says Sheehan. “The casino is near there and people see it. People are out having a great time at 2 or 3 in the morning.”
Sheehan adds, “To me it’s an experience. The fact someone is building a big huge atrium on a cruise ship, maybe that’s smart to someone. I’m going for guest experience.”
Shipboard spas and fitness centers have expanded in recent years both in terms of space and offerings — and in terms of onboard revenue for cruise lines as well. On nearly every modern ship they’ve occupied real estate near the top, to take advantage of ocean views.
In a bold move, Princess is changing things up. The Royal Princess will have an ocean-view fitness center up on top but the Lotus Spa has been moved to smack dab in the middle of the ship. The intentions are clear — make the spa more in your face.
The line says in a press release the move makes the spa “a convenient stop for passengers enjoying a treatment before or after the many activities and dining options nearby.”
Says Caluori, “We wanted to capitalize on the traffic from the atrium.”
Facilities will include a Turkish-style steam room, the line’s first hydro-therapy pool, sauna, Couples Villas and Medi Spa (for Botox and acupuncture treatments).
“Royal Princess is really taking it to a whole other level of offerings,” Caluori says. “I think the spa will very much be a showcase for the ship.”
ENTERTAINMENT AS A BATTLEGROUND
Consultant McLeod says that cruise lines are duking it out over who offers the best in entertainment.
The oft-maligned cruise ship production shows have been experiencing a sea change.
Royal Caribbean brought cruising’s first Broadway productions, Chicago and Hairspray, onto Allure and Oasis, just slightly condensed.
On Breakaway, Norwegian will make noise with the rowdy Broadway show Rock of Ages. Says Sheehan, “It’s edgy and we have to do a little work there. But anyone age 70 on down will relate to rock ’n’ roll.”
On Royal Princess, Princess Cruises will introduce streamlined, 30-minute shows that make use of LED screens and other technology — similar to what Carnival recently introduced on Breeze.