All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
For more than a week, I have barely left this ship. It’s not for lack of temptation. The 10-day sail around the Southern Caribbean reads like a vacationer’s wish list, stretching from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas, St. Thomas, Dominica, Curacao and Aruba. But I’m on the shine enchanted princessPrincess Cruises’ newest mega-ship, and there’s plenty on her sun-drenched decks, including bird’s-eye views of those dream destinations, to make me want to stay put.
Every morning, I open my blinds and step out onto a private balcony to find a bright new view in front of me. One day, it’s a port of Curaçao, a constellation of dancing sailboats; on others there is only the infinite expanse of the aquatic sea. I drink it back and forth, in my own type of mindful meditation, sitting with my face in the sun.
In the Italian plaza, the core of the ship, passengers huddle on the gleaming marble floor in groups of two or four, chirping excitedly about what they might be doing in port that day. Will they post on a beach or take a driving tour around the island, watching the palm trees blow past their open windows? I promise myself to join them later. Instead, I go up and up and out to spend another big day by the pool.
The pools, that is. There are two of 16, two emerald-cut diamonds set in the bezel of a large p. You can sit slouched on a lounge chair next to them, but I stake a spot one level above, near a hot tub that bubbles like Old Faithful. Just off the outer balustrade it has a grazing view of the sea beyond and the activity below. Hours pass as I watch sunglasses-wearing guests wade across the water, snow-white piña coladas in hand. In the middle of the afternoon, I joined them. At the Seaview Bar, which offers the best view of the action, the bartender whips me up a Dark N’ Stormy, his ice cubes clinking soundlessly as I return to my perch. Maybe I’ll swim some laps, I think, or go up one more level to the jogging track that wraps around the 18th bridge, wrapping around a mesh basketball court and, somehow, like a miracle at sea, a little practice green.
I use dinnertime as an opportunity to sample filet mignon at all of the ship’s restaurants, from the white-tablecloth steakhouse Crown Grill to the swanky French restaurant La Bistro Sur La Mer (and every night it’s cooked to perfection). ). But before each meal, I’m drawn to the square, lingering at the top of its grand spiral staircase to drink it all. Some nights a four-piece band performs, with couples dancing to Beatles covers. Friends grab an ice cream as an after-dinner treat before heading to a show at Take Five, the only real jazz venue at sea (apart from the Take Five aboard sister ship sky princess).