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Found at Sea: Three New Ships

By Carolyn Spencer Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 11, 1999; Page E04
   


Ever feel like all cruise ships are built alike? Truth is, most are. In the interest of cost efficiency, cruise lines design series of ships -- Carnival's Fantasy Class, Princess's Grand Class -- each based on similar layouts (though there's some variation in interior design and features). But three ships, launched within the past year to great hoopla, are cut from unusual molds. Recently, I toured them.

Carnival Paradise

The Big Boast

Mass-market cruising's first -- and, to date, only -- completely non-smoking vessel.

Which Means

If you're caught smoking on board you'll pay a $250 fine and get put off in the next port. And they mean it.

Neat Stuff

Lounges and public rooms pay homage to classic ocean liners with typical Carnival flash. Hundreds of Faberge-inspired eggs perch on columns, the disco has a jungle theme, and the atrium rises seven stories. Check out the do-it-yourself, fresh-squeezed o.j. machine in the Lido's Paris Dining Room. Also cool: the ship's collection of cruise artifacts (cocktail shakers from the SS United States, a 1953 embarkation photo of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor).

Basics

Sails 7-day Caribbean itineraries . . . 2,040-passenger capacity . . . early-booking fares from $849 (per person, double occupancy) . . . 1-800-438-6744, www.carnival.com.

Grand Princess

The Big Boast

At 109,000 tons, the current holder of the coveted "biggest cruise ship ever" title.

Which Means

Why stop at ports at all when you're on a floating city? For better or worse, Grand Princess tries to be "all things to all people."

Neat Stuff

Golf simulator and putting green, two alternative restaurants (Southwestern and Italian cuisine) complementing three formal dining rooms, an outdoor grill, 24-hour buffet, ice cream bar and pizzeria. Titanic-style bow (dares you to dangle, Leo-style). Moving walkway leads you to Skywalker's disco. One of the five pools has wave action. Wedding chapel-cum-conference room. Plus the usual Princess touches, like spa, gym, library, game room, fun zone for kids.

Basics

7-day Caribbean, 12-14-day Mediterranean sailings . . . 2,600 pass-engers . . . early booking: $749 (Caribbean), $2,267 (Mediter-ranean), per person double . . . 1- 800-421-0522, www.princess.com.

Disney Magic

The Big Boast

Disney World goes to sea.

Which Means

Great kids activities and facilities, handsome ship, but a tougher sell to the adult-sans-children cruiser.

Neat Stuff

Rotation dining -- you eat in a different restaurant every night. Current flicks (from Disney-owned studios) are shown in the on-board cinema. An ESPN Skybox sports bar is tucked into a cosmetic smokestack. Piano bar sells foie gras and caviar. For teens, Coffee Grounds has everything from bongo drums to laptops to CD stations. Outside staterooms have 1112 baths. Adult-only options include a kid-free restaurant and a nighttime entertainment "district."

Basics

3- and 4-day Bahamas itineraries . . . 1,750 capacity . . . early booking: 3-day from $657 (per person, double), kids $432 each . . .1-800-WDW-CRUISE, www.disneycruise .com.

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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