Star Princess had lots of areas for sun and sea breezes, plus the Sanctuary, a cosseting private deck with a surcharge.
Of the five pools on Star Princess, Neptune’s Reef is the central pool and serves as the main outdoor facility. The pool depth ranged from 4-foot 6-inches at one end, to 7 feet deep at the other. There were two hot tubs, showers and the screen for Movies Under the Stars. Depending on the weather, this area was sometimes quite busy.
Bar service was available from the Mermaids Tail Bar facing the pool area.
Of the five pools on Star Princess, Calypso Reef is one of the two largest, and the ship’s one indoor swimming facility. The pool depth ranged from 5-foot 2-inches at one end, to 7 feet deep at the other. There are two hot tubs, showers and loungers, plus the Conservatory, an upper deck wrapping around the pool that has Ping Pong tables and more loungers (the Conservatory was little used during our cruise).
This area was one of the more curious elements of Star Princess. The Terrace Pool is a bit smaller than Calypso Reef and Neptune’s Reef, but it sat at the tail end of Deck 12, meaning we could sit in the pool and gaze aft, watching the world go by. The oddest thing was the T-shaped “spoiler” suspended above us, Skywalkers Nightclub, a structure that shaded the pool for most of the day and provided a spacy view overhead. It was a great spot to hang out and bar service was available from the nearby Outrigger Bar.
This area was underused during our cruise. The pool was smaller than most, a glorified plunge pool, perhaps, and there was a kiddie pool next to it, but as it was quiet most times the space provided a nice area for sunning and relaxing.
This smaller pool occupies a sunken space within the spa facility. There were 10 loungers, a couple small hot tubs, and showers. It’s outdoors, but with walls enclosing this space, sun didn’t land here most of the day. Still the secluded spot was somewhat more private than the ship’s other pool areas. It was also convenient for guests using the Sanctuary, just upstairs.
We had mixed feelings about the Sanctuary, a paid-access club on Deck 16. With cushy loungers, screened sun, potted (fake) vegetation, and attentive waiters, it’s a lovely facility offering some of the ship’s best sea views. But we also felt such prime space should be accessible to anyone booking a cruise on Star Princess. Instead, there’s a $20 day use fee for the facility—it’s one more strike against the all-inclusive nature of the cruise experience.
We’ll put aside egalitarian notions for a moment. Much of what makes the adults-only Sanctuary so appealing is the dearth of bodies. The facility has ample loungers for its relatively few guests; a couple oversized private cabanas are reserved for massages (regular spa prices prevail). Waiters deliver light meals from a limited menu, but a $3 delivery fee was applied to food orders; considering there’s already a cost to use the facility, we found the additional surcharge to be a bit tacky.
It’s a quiet area, but MP3 players with themed playlists (Smooth Jazz, Chill Lounge, etc.) were available, with BOSE Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones. Free from crowding or romping kids, this elite club provided a good hideaway to a select few.
The Promenade Deck circuited most of the exterior portion of Deck 7. Near the front of the ship the deck ends, but staircases on both sides of the ship lead up to Deck 8. Three complete circuits of decks 7 and 8 equaled one mile, but note that the forward portion of Deck 8 is closed after sunset. There were ample deck chairs for taking in the sea breezes.
This large exterior deck extended from the bridge area of the ship and wrapped around the pools, leading to stairs and the Oasis. The forward section above the bridge represented some of the best views for those not wishing to spring for day-use fee at The Sanctuary. There were no deck chairs or services here, and the area could be windy (it’s closed after sundown), but still a nice perch.
This smallish deck towered above the Neptune’s Pool area. We found it rarely used during our cruise, but it was a nice spot for catching some rays. It was also the highest accessible point on the forward part of the ship.
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