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CRUISE VIEWS

New Star Princess Cruising Toward Alaskan Seas

May 21, 1989|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH | Slater and Basch are Los Angeles free-lance writers

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Star Princess--newest and largest ship in the Princess fleet--will call at Los Angeles Saturday after a 14-day transcanal cruise from its winter base here.

The 1,470-passenger, 63,254-ton ship, part of the cruise line featured in the "Love Boat" television series, will continue to San Francisco. From there, it will journey to Alaska and Canada on 12-day, round-trip cruises beginning May 29.

The Star Princess already was under construction under another name as Sitmar's FairMajesty when that line was acquired by Princess/P&O last summer. Many passengers had booked the inaugural cruise before the new name and logo were painted on the ship at Chantiers de l'Atlantique Shipyard in St. Nazaire, France.

The Star Princess is not intended to duplicate either the Royal Princess or the former Fairsky, now the Sky Princess. Instead, it has been designed to appeal more to younger passengers.

The Lido pool deck runs most of the length of the vessel and features two large swimming pool areas spanned by a raised sunning deck. The Oasis pool has a waterfall and an in-pool bar, while the Paradise pool is flanked by four Jacuzzis. Additional lounge chairs and shaded tables surround the area and the balcony deck above.

At the stern of the spacious outdoor deck, Cafe Cornucopia serves breakfast, lunch, tea and midnight snacks, with two buffet service lines and plenty of tables inside and out. Pronto Pizzeria and a bar called Characters, specializing in brightly colored drinks in gigantic glasses, are on the opposite end of the deck.

The directional signs throughout the ship are readable and specific, making it easy to get around despite the ship's size.

In the three-deck atrium, a huge stainless-steel kinetic sculpture, created by artist George Baker, dominates the open area around the curved stairway. It is flanked by shops on two levels and a pastry shop and cafe-bar called La Patisserie.

The latter is an ideal spot for people-watching, and in the evening the area doubles for dancing with live music. Entertainment includes four production shows.

Star Princess cabins each contain a built-in safe, a hair dryer, a refrigerator and a mini-bar, plus plenty of wardrobe space. Fifty suites and mini-suites have private balconies with chairs and tables, and 10 cabins have been designed with extra-wide doors and no sills or thresholds to make access easy for wheelchair passengers.

Per-diem prices, including air fare, for the 10-day Caribbean sailings this fall and winter range from $196 per person, double occupancy, for an inside cabin with two lower beds, to $391 for an outside suite with a veranda.

The Alaska prices, including air fare, range from $209 to $428 per day. The suites include a mini-bar that is restocked daily with complimentary drinks.

Book three or more months in advance and you'll get a substantial discount.

Despite an abundance of public space, the ship does not have a small, quiet bar with charm. All the lounges, even the classy Vineyard, are open to traffic flow and are much too bright and noisy.

In addition, the dining room did not immediately settle into the kind of high-quality restaurant for which Princess has been known. Service was spotty, and many dishes seemed over-sauced.

But these failings can be corrected. More important for the passenger are the vast deck areas and the spacious cabins.

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