This was a 16 day combination European cruise and transatlantic crossing. It began in Southampton, England and ended in New York City. Along the way, Enchanted Princess called at Bergen, Norway; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Cork, Ireland and Ponta Delgada in the Azores. A scheduled call in Boston, Massachusetts was cancelled due to weather-related reasons.
The majority of passengers on voyages such as this one are usually members of the top tier of the line's loyalty program. In other words, people who know cruising and who are the most familiar with the cruise line are attracted to these voyages. The fares are usually lower than typical round-trip cruises and they offer a lot of sea days in addition to an array of ports. There is good value for money.
This voyage was no exception. Most of the passengers were Elite or Platinum members of the Captain's Circle and many had done transatlantic repositioning cruises before. Somewhat surprisingly, many had flown to Europe just to sail back to the United States. A few, like me, had sailed over on Queen Mary 2, spent time in Europe and were returning home on Enchanted.
As implied above, the vast majority of the passengers were from the United States or Canada. This I was told was in sharp contrast to the ship's European season in which there was more of a mix of nationalities.
The number of passengers was also less than it had been during the European season. This is not unusual for a repositioning crossing. The ship was sailing at about two-thirds of its double occupancy capacity. Most were mature with children being an extremely rare sight. Still, the ship felt uncrowded rather than empty.
Enchanted Princess is a large, modern cruise ship. Because Princess took possession of her during the shut down of the cruise industry caused by the Covid pandemic, she did not enter service until late 2021. As a result, the ship looked and felt like a new ship with all the latest Princess features even though construction on her was completed in 2020. In short, the ship was clean and in excellent condition during this voyage.
The fifth ship in Princess' Royal class, Enchanted Princess looks much like her earlier sisters. However, there are some differences. The décor is lighter and there is more original art work. On Royal Princess, the Princess Live venue was designed to look like and act as a television studio. On Enchanted, it is a more traditional cruise ship entertainment venue. On Royal, the port side Skywalk, which projects out over the sea on Deck 16, was open to the elements. On Enchanted, both the port and starboard Skywalks are enclosed. Perhaps most importantly, Enchanted was built with a midship passenger stairtower, which greatly faciltates passenger flow over the original design for this class of ship.
Enchanted is fully equipped with Princess' Medallion technology. Instead of carrying a room key card, passengers wear a high tech device that has several functions. For example, when approaching your cabin, the device signals a device on the door that unlocks the door. It also locks the door when you leave the cabin. Similarly, the device is used to check you in and out when you enter or leave the ship. It can also be used to buy things.
The Medallion device works in harmony with the Medallion App on the passengers' smartphones. Almost all of the major cruise lines now have their own App. Some work better than others. The Princess App works the best of the ones I have experienced. It provides a good deal of information and can be used for such things as ordering a drink anywhere on the ship. The staff will then bring it to you because the Medallion device tells them where you are.
Of course, some passengers are more tech savy than others. To help with the Medallion device and App, a set of experts were stationed each day in the public areas to answer questions and delve into the mysteries of smartphones.
For the most part, the experts seemed to be dealing with questions relating to the Medallion internet service. Because there are relatively few communications satellites over the Atlantic, internet service on crossings is not like it is at home or even in the Caribbean. However, when Enchanted was in more populated regions, the Medallion internet service worked well.
Enchanted is propelled by two traditional propeller shafts. A set of bow and stern thrusters make her quite maneuverable when in port.
Her speed is about average for a modern cruise ship. Still, it was enough to allow the ship to dodge a set of hurricanes that were arrayed across the Atlantic.
Because of the hurricanes, the captain warned a few times that the ship might experience some motion. However, as it turned out, the pitching and rolling was quite slight.
To avoid the bad weather, Enchanted zig-zagged across the Atlantic. Indeed, at one point, the position map on the stateroom television showed that we were parallel with North Africa. While this made for a more comfortable ride, it left insufficient time for the ship to make her last port of call in Boston. Instead, passengers were given a day in New York City before disembarking.
I was not looking forward to checking in for this voyage. Due to the various Covid protocols, checking in has been an arduous process for each of the cruises I have been on post-pandemic. While the cruise lines were in the midst of eliminating some of these protocals when this cruise was to take place, the original testing and vaccination requirements were still in place for this voyage.
Furthermore, Princess required passengers to use the Medallion App to check in. My experience with other cruise lines apps did not give me confidence that this would be a smooth experience.
I arrived at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton during the time slot for arrival that I had selected beforehand on the App. Going upstairs, I was directed to a staff member who gave me my Medallion device. I was then sent to another staff member who had a terminal that was apparently communicating with the Medallion device. It told her apparently everything she needed to know because after looking at my passport, I was sent to board the ship. In total, it took about ten minutes from the time I entered the terminal to the time I was on the ship. Well done.
For this voyage, I had a partially obscured balcony cabin. On some ships, partially obscured means that if you strain your neck, you can see a patch of sea between the hulls of two lifeboats. Here, however, the lifeboat was situated slightly below the balcony so that you looked over the top of the lifeboat to see the sea. It hardly obscured the view at all and did not block the sunlight.
The cabin itself was nicely decorated like a contemporary hotel. There was more than enough storage space.
The bathroom was small but functioned well. It was the only aspect of Enchanted Princess that seemed to belong to the previous generation of cruise ships rather than the ships coming out of the shipyards today.
My stateroom steward was excellent. He was friendly, serviced the room promptly when I went out in the morning and evening and was good about requests such as laundry and shoeshining.
Overall, the service on Enchanted was quite friendly. Although Princess was for many years a subsidiary of the British line P&O Cruises, the line never embraced the ideal of respectful distant service. Rather, Princess followed the American style. The staff are friendly and after a few meetings, you often know something of their personal history.
The excellent service extended to dinner in the Amalfi dining room. Enchanted has three main dining rooms, each serving the same dinner menu. I ventured into the Amalfi the first day and liked the experience so much that I was able to arrange to have the same table and staff each night on the voyage. The waiter and his assistants were friendly and had my table prepared according to my preferences each evening.
For breakfast and lunch, only the Corfu dining room is open. This is done on an open seating basis. I had the same waiters for breakfast several times but there was no standing arrangement.
I found the Corfu was a little too popular at lunch. Luckily, there was an alternative. Gigi's (called Alfredo's on the original Royal-class ships) is a complimentary venue with waiter service where they offer individual-size pizzas. While this is not a design-your-own-pizza venue, they will alter the menu pizzas to taste. For example, I ordered extra cheese several times. It is a popular venue but since it was open essentially from noon to midnight, there were less busy times each day when tables were available immediately.
Enchanted Princess also has several extra-tariff specialty restaurnts. On this voyage, I had a dinner in the Crown Grill, a sophisticated steakhouse. As has been my experience with Crown Grills on other Princess ships, the quality of the meat was excellent and it was cooked precisely as ordered.
While it is admittedly a question of taste, I have always found the food on Princess ships to be good. This is not to say that at times the food on ships of other lines cannot exceed Princess but rather Princess is consistently good. Enchanted Princess upheld the Princess standard.
The cruise director and his staff seemed to be everywhere, being upbeat and perky. The activities were typical of mass market ships such as game shows (e.g., Deal or No Deal), trivas, bingo and dance classes.
On a more sophisticated level, an enrichment speaker gave a series of talks on topics relating to transatlantic travel. Another speaker talked about each of the ports on Enchanted's itinerary.
Evening entertainment included three production shows in the Princess Theater as well as performances by visiting comedians, singers and musicians. Of the latter, the most memorable was the Shamrock Tenors who harmonized on traditional Irish music. There was also live music including rock, jazz, classical and piano favorites in the various bars and lounges.
The itinerary for the cruise portion of this voyage consisted of some of the less visited ports in Europe. They were not small towns but rather cities that are somewhat overshadowed by other cities in the same country. To illustrate, Bergen is the second largest city in Norway after Oslo. Cork and Belfast are overshadowed by Dublin. Some of the well-traveled passengers told me that they had come on this voyage just because the ports were places they had never been before.
This does not mean that these ports are devoid of culture or interest. Bergen, surrounded by scenic mountains, has the Kode art museum – a complex of four buildings surrounding a lake in the middle of the city. Belfast has the Titanic Museum and is a jumping off point for visiting natural wonders such as the Giant's Causeway. Historic Cork has the Crawford Art Gallery and can serve as a gateway to the interior of Ireland.
The weather was friendly for our call in Bergen and for a delightful sea day cruising through the beautiful Hebrides islands. However, it was grey in Belfast and there was heavy rain in Cork. It cleared for our day in the Azores, which was good as the attractions there are primarily outdoors.
Above: Enchanted Princess in Southampton.
Below: The ship in Bergen.
Above: The Shamrock Tenors performing in the Princess Theater.
Cruise review - - Princess Cruises - - Enchanted Princess - - European Cruise & Transatlantic Crossing - Summer 2022