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GRAND PRINCESS To Lose Her “Handle”

"As built" Princess Cruises GRAND PRINCESS at Fort Lauderdale. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2000.

February 10:  Princess Cruises revealed specifics on the removal of the Skywalkers Lounge pod and other changes being made to its 2,600 passenger  GRAND PRINCESS.  The first in a class of nine Princess and two P&O ships (that more or less utilized her blueprint), the 109,000 gt GRAND PRINCESS was the largest passenger ship in the world when she debuted in 1998.

Skywalkers from the starboard Deck 15 shuffleboard courts. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2000.

Her futuristic profile, the creation of Fincantieri architect Giacomo Mortola, was considered edgy and controversial for the pod suspended over the ship’s stern containing Skywalker’s Lounge.

Skywalkers, facing starboard. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2000.

A quiet nook by day and disco at night, Skywalkers was dismissed by many as a “shopping cart handle” that marred the ship’s profile.  Some also complained that the underutilized space cast a shadow over the Terrace Pool atop the stern.

GRAND PRINCESS' new profile. Courtesy of Princess Cruises.

Naysayers will now get their wish in seeing the structure removed as part of a multi-million dollar upgrade to the ship this spring at Freeport’s Grand Bahama Shipyard.  The pod was the first of its type installed on a ship and subsequent pods utilized lighter materials.  Its removal will improve the GRAND PRINCESS’ handling and efficiency and save fuel.  There are no plans to remove similar structures from the line’s other Grand Class ships, GOLDEN PRINCESS, STAR PRINCESS and CARIBBEAN PRINCESS.

No more 5:00 shadow! The GRAND PRINCESS' stern after the removal of Skywalkers. Courtesy of Princess Cruises.

The 24 day refit will also include the installation of a new nightclub on aft Deck 15 called One5, the transformation of the atrium into Princess’ signature Piazza, including the addition of Vines tapas and wine bar.  A Crown Grill steakhouse and Crooner’s martini bar will also be added and a new Alfredo’s Pizzeria will feature an open kitchen.

Leaves Tea Lounge and Library. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises.

New to the fleet will be the Leaves Tea Lounge and Library, complete with tea sommelier that can assist passengers in blending specialized tea creations.  Further enhancements will be made to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa and wedding chapel.

“This is the largest makeover we’ve ever undertaken for any of our ships,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “When Grand Princess was launched she was the most innovative ship at sea, and now we’re adding some of the later innovations we introduced on subsequent ships.”

When GRAND PRINCESS emerges from her makeover, she will head to Fort Lauderdale for a May 5 transatlantic crossing to her summer home port of Southampton.

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