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Majestic Princess

Launched in 2017, Majestic Princess is the newest and largest Princess Cruises ship ever to sail in Australia and New Zealand. Originally designed for the Chinese market, Majestic is not overwhelmingly Asian; it could be more accurately described as international, given its French, Italian, American, Taiwanese and Aussie touches.

Used to sailing on older, albeit refurbished, Princess ships, Australians will be pleased to find Majestic in showroom condition. Amenities that are new to local shores include the SeaWalk, a glass walkway that extends over the ocean; the adults-only Hollywood Pool Club and Conservatory with private cabanas; Watercolor Fantasy, a dancing fountain of lights and music; Bullseye Laser Shooting Range for fixed target practice; Princess Live! TV studio, and a bubble tea kiosk next door.

Additionally, it has the line's largest-ever thermal suite, Movies Under the Stars and a dozen places to eat, some of which are new for Princess and were designed by Michelin-starred chefs (see the Dining section for more details). Another highlight is Fantastic Journey, a technologically advanced pop musical with brilliant performances, costumes and special effects including the use of drones. If you like art, there are lots of quirky pieces onboard, but also be sure to check out the murals on the outdoor, upper decks, which make you wonder why all ships don't use their vast, white walls as canvases.

Since leaving Asia, the ship's six private karaoke rooms have been reduced to one, with the remaining space to be used for spa treatments and internet. The smoking policy in the casino has also changed, with cigarettes permitted only at a designated area of an outdoor deck. Some food and drink selections are currently under revision to suit Aussie tastes, too.

The heart of the ship is the Piazza, claimed to be the biggest atrium afloat, rising three decks high beneath a massive, one-of-a-kind, blue chandelier inspired by ocean waves. Surrounded by bars, a 24-hour cafe and 1,000 sq. m of designer shopping, this busy area is positioned so that everyone walks through on their way to or from the restaurants and theatre. Buzzing from morning to night, it is used for Zumba and dance classes, live music and other entertainment such as juggling, acrobatics and fashion parades. It's also the late-night hot spot, as there is no nightclub onboard. While this open space can feel like you're partying in the middle of a Westfield shopping centre, it makes sense to bring the DJ to the people, rather than trying to fill an inconveniently located venue at the other end of the ship.

Unfortunately, the Westfield vibe spreads to anything nearby, such as the French bistro, La Mer. The cuisine and service are superb but the location and layout are terrible. With no frontage to block the noise from the Piazza, it has the annoying ambience of a food court. Harmony, the new Cantonese eatery, scores a better setting and its menu is equally impressive. Other foodie finds include the poolside grills serving lobster and noodle soups -- a great benefit of an "Asian ship" -- along with free burgers and hot dogs.

We sailed on one of the few departures from Taipei and many of the cabins were occupied by three or four people, causing the ship to feel like it was close to full capacity (4,250 passengers); however, crowds and queues were only bad in the buffet and when disembarking in ports. Conversely, the benefit of this larger size is a wider variety of facilities, new and exclusive venues and more crew, giving Australians a chance to experience the best things that Princess has to offer.

'Smart casual' is Princess's description but Australians tend to dress even more casually during the day. The evenings are classier and most cruises have one or two (optional) formal nights where women glam up in gowns or cocktail dresses and men wear tuxes or dark suits. No swimwear, jeans, singlets or shorts are allowed in the restaurants at dinnertime.

Princess Theatre

The two-storey, palladium-style Princess Theatre is located at the front of the ship on decks 6 and 7. It fills up quickly before a show so groups should arrive early. Be aware, there are no tables or glass holders, as there is no drink service inside the venue. Entertainment is varied, from magicians and musicians to larger-scale productions. Although much of it was Asian-focused on our sailing, we did get to see the new Fantastic Journey, which is coming to Australia and New Zealand. Ambitiously billed as 'the most technologically advanced immersive and cinematic experience at sea ', the pop musical lives up to this big claim. The special effects are spectacular, the costumes are over-the-top and magnificent, and the singers, dancers and aerialists are truly talented. The real crowd-pleaser was an uplifting solo where the female vocalist performs with about 20 illuminated drones flying around her -- a unique and mesmerising moment.

Vista Gaming Lounge

With capacity for more than 300 people, this lounge at the aft of the ship on Deck 7 hosts comedians, illusionists and musicians on stage. Rows of seating face the stage, and at the back of the room are 16 mah-jong tables, the fanciest of which have four-way tile distribution and automatic tile shuffling and organisation. Instructor-led classes and line dances are also held in this show lounge.

Daily Fun

During the day, activities take place in the Piazza, spa, bars, shops, casino, theatre and sports courts. There are usually five different things happening every hour; on port days, activities are more limited. Options include seminars, art auctions, dance classes, shopping and beauty events, cooking, cocktail and fruit-carving demonstrations, wine-tasting and sports tournaments. Poolside fun on the Lido Deck includes concerts and movies shown on the big screen and live music on the outdoor stage.

The Grand Casino features a modern array of poker machines and table games in the main area on Deck 6; there are also VIP Gaming and Private Gaming sections, where the decor is more decadent and ceilings are dripping in chandeliers. The Vista Gaming Lounge (Deck 7 aft) has 16 mah-jong tables for passengers to play at any time, as well as instructor-led dancing classes on the dancefloor at specific times. It has not been confirmed what will happen to the mah-jong in Australia and New Zealand.

At Night

The evening's entertainment in the Piazza ranges from string quartets, jugglers and acrobats to dancing classes with the staff. For a more relaxing vibe, a pianist or musical duo play in the Crown Grill Bar. Out beside the main pool, watch a recent-release blockbuster at Movies Under the Stars from the comfort of a padded recliner or see the Watercolor Fantasy fountain dancing to the tunes of Michael Jackson or swing music.

Production shows and high-energy musical performances are held in the Princess Theatre, while the more intimate Vista Gaming Lounge sees musicians and solo acts such as comedians performing on a smaller stage. Also, the Princess Live! Studio hosts a singing contest and funny gameshows involving passengers who volunteer to go on stage to compete for prizes. Games include Marriage Match, Yes/No, Majority Rules, Shape It and Blankety Blank. To push on past midnight, a DJ kicks off clubbing in the Piazza around 11:30 p.m. until late. On sailings of a week or more, a dance party is also held on the last night in the Hollywood Pool Club.

Majestic Princess Bars and Lounges

Majestic Princess has a good range of drinking venues, as well as many outlets selling non-alcoholic beverages, such as a bubble tea kiosk and a juice bar. 

As it stands, there is no Crooners, no Wheelhouse, no Outriggers, no Club 6 and no Skywalkers Nightclub; however, there is a bar with a view of the ship's wake, called the Wake View Bar, and several poolside and indoor options. The majority of bars are located around the three-storey, open-plan Piazza so passengers can see what's happening nearby. On our Asia sailing, lots of people danced all night (and didn't drink) in the Piazza on Deck 5. Most bars were almost empty, but this is sure to dramatically change Down Under.

The wine selection onboard is excellent, with pricing and options for every taste; however, they had run out of most Asian beers on our cruise. More beers and wines from Australia and New Zealand will be added ahead of the local season; we'd also love to see a range of Aussie craft beers for sale.

Sing on the Sea Karaoke Suites (Deck 5): A unique feature of Majestic Princess is its private karaoke space. Six suites, about half the size of a standard cabin, are individually designed with a different theme such as Adele or Michael Jackson. Each suite can be reserved by a group of friends or families (up to six people per suite) to have your own singalong party. Songs are self-selected on touchscreens and bar staff are on hand, outside your room, to serve drinks. In Australia, only one room will be used for karaoke; the other five rooms will be shared with the spa and internet cafe.

Vines (Deck 5): Perfect for wine enthusiasts, Vines has a long list of wines from around the world as well as a selection of wine flights. During pre-dinner hours, tapas and sushi are complimentary with any wine purchase. Patrons can sit at the bar or at tables. Decorated in gold and dark wood, it's a warm, slightly darker space but one wall has oceanview windows to let in natural light while the opposite side is open to the Piazza.

Bellini's (Deck 6): Perch yourself here for the best people-watching spot in the Piazza. Aside from serving its namesake cocktail (a Bellini is prosecco mixed with white peach puree or another juice), other fruity drinks are the speciality of this small bar.

Ocean Terrace Juice Bar (Deck 7): Also overlooking the Piazza, passengers can enjoy non-alcoholic beverages such as juices and mocktails. Unfortunately, it is concentrate and pre-mix, not fresh fruit, that is used for these ' healthy' drinks. It remains to be seen if this will work in Australia or if it switches to a bar serving alcohol.

Casino Bar (Deck 6): The casino has a main bar in the gaming area and a luxurious, private VIP bar, dripping with gold and fancy chandeliers, for 'high rollers' . Smoking is permitted inside the casino in Asia but will become no-smoking in Australia.

Crown Grill Bar (Deck 7): Essentially an extension of the Crown Grill, this large bar has solid wooden chairs, lamps and dim lighting. It does most of its business in the hour before dinner but will probably be popular among Australians looking for a comfy indoor spot to settle into longer sessions.

Leaves Tea Bar (Deck 7): Adjacent to Princess Live! Studio, this kooky kiosk sells Taiwan-style bubble tea (gong cha), as well as treats such as tapioca and banana pudding. 

Vista Gaming Lounge (Deck 7): A bar is located inside this lounge, which hosts mah-jong games, live music and performers such as comedians.

Fountain Pool Bar (Deck 16): This is the main bar on the Lido and gets busy on warm, sea days. Beers and cocktails are the name of the game here.

SeaView Bar (Deck 16): Situated near a cantilevered walkway on starboard side, opposite the SeaWalk, this small bar is a novelty for its location and entertaining bartenders.

Wave View Bar (Deck 16): Offering the best outlook over the back of the ship's wake, this bar is criminally empty. With panoramic ocean views and lots of seating and deck space to spread out, it should be buzzing. Instead, it's an underrated, peaceful space to kick back and soak in the fabulous vista.

Majestic Princess Outside Recreation

Pools

Head to Deck 16 for the main action. The ship's largest pool is the Fountain Pool, with an adjacent, smaller plunge pool, and both are surrounded by a shallow water area that allows passengers to cool off their feet or let the kids play in. Two hot tubs are located on either side of the pool. The only other swimming spot is found inside the Hollywood Pool Club on Deck 17. This adults-only pool is covered by a glass dome to keep the room and water at a comfortable temperature, regardless of weather, but we often found it was too cold from the air-conditioning.

Recreation

The large sports courts area on Deck 18 aft is called Princess Sports Central. Activities include basketball, tennis, volleyball, badminton, bean bag toss, giant foosball and minigolf, plus a putting green and driving cage. Perhaps due to the vigorous table tennis skills of Chinese passengers, there are ping pong tables enclosed with nets. Unusual for a cruise ship, there is a laser shooting simulator for fixed target practice, as well as an outdoor gym on Deck 17 aft.

Sun Decks

Instead of the Sanctuary found on other Princess ships, Majestic introduces the Hollywood Pool Club and Hollywood Conservatory. These adults-only spaces are enclosed, allowing views through the panoramic windows and a glass dome ceiling. In the pool section, there are two hot tubs, lots of reclining sun-lounges and a bar with about a dozen barstools along it. Decorated with topiary trees in pots, sculptures and blue and purple lighting, it has a relaxing ambience. The undercover pool itself is just about big enough to do short laps and has a ' moat' of ankle-deep water around it so you can dip in your feet without getting in. On one night of each cruise, a dance party with a DJ is held here.

Through to the back of the ship is the more stylish section known as the Conservatory. It's basically a games room for grown-ups, with giant chess, electric xylophones and drums, and quirky topiary trees trimmed into the shape of animals and a dancing family. Passengers can also book private cabanas, which are like living rooms, equipped with a television, couch and ottoman.

Between these two Hollywood hot spots is a wishing wall. A tribute to the Asian tradition of making a wish and releasing a lantern into the sky, the wall has pictures of sky lanterns that passengers can write their wishes on. Entry is free.

Majestic Princess also boasts sun deck areas overlooking the main pool on decks 16 and 17, as well as the Horizon Terrace, a peaceful area aft on Deck 16, adjacent to Outrigger Bar, that provides a mix of sun and shade. Two hot tubs on Deck 17 overlook the main Lido Deck area and are perfect for checking out the action or watching the movie screen.

Majestic Princess Services

Guest services and the shore excursions desk can be found near the Piazza on Deck 5, which serves as the hub of the ship. At the other end is a travel agent where passengers can book future Princess cruises. A large digital photo and video gallery is on Deck 6 midship, next to the art gallery. The ship's formal photo studio, Platinum Studio, is located on Deck 17. The medical centre is on Deck 4.

A library with a small selection of books and an internet cafe are adjacent on Deck 7. Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship, too. Passengers can buy pay-as-you-go packages starting at 120 minutes for US$69 up to 680 minutes for US$199; these prices will change in Australia. Keep an eye out for embarkation day specials, which can save a few dollars.

The bulk of the shopping is on Deck 7 with more on Deck 5. The duty-free outlets are Princess's most luxurious to date: Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo, Coach, Swarovski and an EFFY jewellery store, to name a few. Other shops sell souvenirs, branded clothing, toiletries, sunglasses, handbags, scarves and more.

Passengers can do their own laundry at the self-service facilities located on each deck from 8 through 15. Laundries are equipped with washing machines, dryers, iron and ironing board; detergent and fabric softener can be purchased from vending machines. A laundry service, charging by the item, is also available by ordering using the form in your cabin.

Majestic Princess's Lotus Spa on Deck 5 is a typically serene space, although the reception area gets a lot of passing traffic as it is between the elevators and the guest services area. One area is used for hair, nail and men's grooming services; the private rooms are used for massages, facials, body wraps, waxing and MediSpa anti-wrinkle treatments, lip fillers and other cosmetic enhancements. Side-by-side massages for couples are held in a larger room with a giant tub for two, steam room and bathroom.

The Enclave is housed in the spa. This is Princess Cruises' largest thermal suite and it's a lovely escape for a few hours. The dimly lit space is dominated by a hydrotherapy soaking pool with very strong water outlets that massage the neck and shoulders or you can lay on a bench area with gentler jets. Around the pool are relaxing stone beds, water beds, sensory showers, a sauna and two types of steam rooms. Passengers who purchase spa treatments aren't entitled to use the Enclave, which keeps it quiet and exclusive. Passes can be purchased for US$39; Australian season pricing is yet to be determined.

Fitness

Majestic Princess' fitness centre is on Deck 17. The gym is long, narrow and lined with large windows. Cardio equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, rowers and spin bikes, face the ocean view. A very good selection of weight machines is in one corner, as well as a cable machine, Smith machine with plates and free weights up to 100 pounds. A separate aerobics studio is used for Pilates, boot camp, spin classes, which cost extra. A free stretching class is held in this room every morning, while Zumba classes are held in the Piazza. The fitness centre opens at 7 a.m.

A second, all-hours, outdoor gym is located on Deck 17 aft with amazing views of the ocean and the ship's wake. The resistance equipment, which work using bodyweight, is the non-electric type you would find at a beachside gym, such as simplified versions of a stepping machine and a leg press. Not found on other ships based in Australia, this family-friendly gym is a great addition for adults and kids alike.

Deck 18 has a walking/jogging track. Seven laps are the equivalent of a mile or 1.6 kilometres.

While there are plenty of extra-charge dining options onboard, passengers have enough variety and quality of free food. Traditionalists who prefer waiter service can head to the ship's three main dining rooms: Symphony, Allegro and Concerto. Those who like a casual buffet can go to the World Fresh Marketplace. For lunch by the pool, check out the free noodle soups, lobster (extra charge) and free burgers and hot dogs. 

International Cafe (Deck 5): The popular International Cafe in the Piazza is open 24 hours. Speciality coffees and premium teas are priced a la carte, but the pastries, paninis and salads are free. The selection changes through the day, starting with light morning snacks such as an English muffin with egg, almond croissants and banana bread, which are handy to grab instead of a big breakfast. A 15-drink punch card can be purchased to save money, and unused punches carry over to your next cruise.

Allegro Dining Room (Deck 6): This traditional dining room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with waiters providing table service. Breakfast is typically served 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. On sea days there are set dinner times: a first seating at 5:30 p.m. and a second seating at 7:45 p.m. On port days it is open sitting from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Menus offer an entree, a soup or salad course, main meal and dessert. Dishes can include meat, seafood, pasta and vegetarian options, regional cuisine, and low-fat, sugar-free and gluten-free items.

Symphony Dining Room (Deck 5): Also, a traditional dining room with 5:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. seatings. The menu in Symphony is the same as in Allegro and Concerto. It was closed on our port day.

Concerto Dining Room (Deck 6): Serving dinner only, Concerto is open sitting on port days between 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. and has two seatings on sea days at 5:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. The menu there is the same as in Allegro and Symphony.

Alfredo's Pizzeria (Deck 6): Open for lunch and dinner, Alfredo's is always busy plating up free pizza, pasta and salads. Passengers can watch the chefs at work through a glass partition. Hot tip: i t's also open on embarkation day from noon (except during the muster drill) so is a good place for a quieter lunch while everyone else is cramming into the buffet. On other days, Alfredo's is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

World Fresh Marketplace Buffet and Bistro (Deck 16): Known as the Horizon Court on other Princess ships, the buffet is massive and bountiful, with plenty of seating. Hand-washing basins as well as hand- sanitising sprays are located at entrances. This is the place to come if you want to dress casually, self-serve your food, reload your tray and get out of there. Waiters come to take your drink order, or there are several dispensers with a free selection of water, tea, coffee, iced tea and lemon cordial.

Breakfast options include muesli, oatmeal, cereal, toast, scrambled and hard-boiled eggs, pastries, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, smoked salmon, cheese, fruit and yoghurt. Fried and poached eggs and omelettes can be made to order. There's also an Asian selection including congee, hot soups and dim sum.

Lunch has carving stations of various meats, made-to-order sandwiches, soups, pasta and other hot dishes, Asian stir-fries, cold salads and salad bars to make your own. Dinner often had a theme such as French, Italian or English pub grub.

Open from noon to 11 p.m. on embarkation day. On other days it is open for breakfast from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., then lunch until 2 p.m., before closing until dinner at 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The Bakery (Deck 16): An extension of buffet, this dessert counter is full of delectable items baked daily by the pastry chefs. The rotating selection is outstanding, with lots of cakes, pies, tarts and slices. Treat yourself.

Swirls Ice Cream Bar (Deck 16): For cooling down by the pool, this handy kiosk on the Lido Deck has crew whipping up cones and cups of vanilla and chocolate; unlike some other Australian ships, Majestic Princess' soft-serve ice cream is free. At night, popcorn is handed out from here during Movies Under the Stars. Swirls is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. but sometimes closes for a few afternoon hours on port days.

Chopsticks Noodle Bar (Deck 16): A first for Princess Cruises, this Asian take-away outlet is located poolside. Noodle soups are freshly made to order with your choice of fish balls, chicken, vegetables, tofu and wontons. Open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Lobster Bar (Deck 16): Majestic Princess' poolside grill promises a decadent snacking option. Unfortunately, there was no lobster when we showed up, and on another day the venue was closed during the advertised opening hours. There is an extra charge for lobster when sailing in Australia and New Zealand. Open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Room Service: Available 24 hours a day, the morning sees breakfast items such as egg sandwiches, fruit and cereal; lunch and dinner include sandwiches, soups, salads, burgers, pizza and other hot meals. Chocolate cookies with milk is one of the cute Princess traditions on the late-night menu. There is no charge for room service (except $3 for pizza delivery).

Fee Dining

Spending a little extra money will bring rewards on Majestic Princess. The speciality restaurants are exceptional and the special-occasion dinners (which we didn't try) look well worth it based on the dazzling venues alone.

Harmony (Deck 5, midship); $29 per person: Sparkling with the touch of Michelin stars, Harmony is an elegant venue with golden decor and ocean views. The menu is designed by Taiwan-born chef Richard Chen, who was executive chef at Wynn Las Vegas' Wing Lei when it became the first Chinese restaurant in North America to be awarded a Michelin star. He's known for modern twists on duck and other traditional Cantonese dishes using Western ingredients and techniques. This is taken a step further onboard, as open flames are not allowed on cruise ships, so the chefs have to use induction cooktops. Chen says he now prefers the induction method, and his favourite meal is the wok-fried lobster with XO sauce (AU$12 surcharge). Sadly, they had run out of lobster when we dined so we didn't get to try it.

The menu is the same for lunch and dinner; up to five courses can be selected. Starters include chilled abalone with green papaya salad, steamed pork spare ribs with squash and fermented black bean, or the Peking duck salad. Our pick is the delicious sampler of barbecue pork, beef tendon and jelly fish. Then comes a choice of two soups (herbal or roasted duck), followed by one of the main specialities such as sizzling chicken casserole, steamed sea bass or diced sausage with calamari, pickled daikon and chilli.

Diners can also choose fried rice, noodles or vegetables on the side. The three desserts are red bean creme brulee, green tea cheesecake and sake-marinated melon with passionfruit foam, coconut-pineapple ice cream, mango sago soup and pistachio gelato. Open for lunch and dinner; reservations are required.

Winemaker's Dinner (Symphony, Deck 5, and Concerto, Deck 6); $40 per person: Semi-private areas in the dining rooms are set aside for a special menu that pairs each course with a wine from one label. The set menu includes an amuse bouche, entree, soup, main and dessert, with wines topped up generously. As the winemakers vary each time, the dishes change for each dinner. Reservations can be made onboard at the guest services desk.

Chef's Table Lumiere (Allegro, Deck 6 ); AU$115 per person: The Chef's Table Lumiere is perfectly named as the setting sees an oval table glowing under a wavy chandelier, a Murano glass centrepiece and crystal 'curtains of light' separating it from the rest of the dining room. The experience includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the main galley (kitchen), hosted by the maitre d' and executive chef, where the small group of diners drink Champagne and nibble on canapes. Then they move onto dinner of a specially created menu and wine pairing. Contact guest services to find out when the Chef's Table is available. Reservations are essential and limited to 12 people per night.

La Mer (Deck 7, midship); AU$35 for dinner, AU$12 for lunch: Princess Cruises' first foray into French cuisine has ups and downs. Fortunately, the positives are the two most important aspects: food and service. The menu was created by Emmanuel Renaut, former head chef at Claridge's in London and current executive chef of Flocons de Sel in France, which has been awarded three Michelin stars over the past decade. Although it translates to 'the sea', La Mer impresses with its meat dishes, too.

Dinner begins with two unusual welcomes: crust-less sardine sandwiches and crispy chips of ox tongue. Diners then choose from hors d'oeuvres such as escargot, pate in dough or ahi tuna tartare with 'parsley like a harlequin '. B ut we were most pleasantly surprised by the oeuf croquantcoulant, a crunchy-coated egg with creamy yolk, served on wild mushrooms and wine sauce. For the mains, our fellow diners raved about the duck (magret de canard) and pork (filet de porc roti), while our favourite dish (on the whole ship) was the red snapper and scallop mousseline with lemongrass lobster sauce. Finally, dessert is offered from a selection of floating island praline, chocolate and Chartreuse parfait, chocolate-mint tart or spice-roasted pineapple.

La Mer's lunch menu consists of crepes, salad bowls, sandwiches and casseroles. The standout is probably the smoked sausage and braised pork belly in white bean stew. Wines, beers and French cocktails are sold separately. Our waiter was superbly professional and passionate, making excellent recommendations and explaining each dish in great detail.

The downside of the venue is its open-plan layout and proximity to the Piazza while the entertainment is in full swing. We could barely hear our softly spoken server while the crowd below cheered and screamed and all kinds of strange noises blasted from the stage. The result was it feels like you're eating in a food court, which is not what you pay extra for, nor expect from a French bistro. Luckily the rest of the La Mer experience is distracting in a good way. Reservations essential.

Crown Grill (Deck 7, aft); AU$29 per person: Princess Cruises' Crown Grill is the ultimate steakhouse at sea. Turn up hungry and early to grab a pre-dinner drink at the adjoining bar. Diners choose from appetizers, mains (including a wide variety of steaks and chops but also prawns and mussels) and shared sides (mashed potato and creamed spinach are our favourites). Surf n' turf incurs an AU$10 surcharge. Waiters describe the different cuts of steak and three gourmet salt choices -- Hawaiian Black, Smoked Applewood and Himalayan Mountain Pink. Save room for the dessert sampler. Open 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Reservations essential.

More than 80 percent of the 1,780  cabins on Majestic Princess have private balconies; in fact, there are no outside cabins without balconies. Decor is in shades of brown, cream, burgundy and wood -- not particularly modern but nice, clean and fresh. Room sizes are in line with the industry average, though balconies are on the small side, unless it's a suite.

All cabins have a supremely comfortable Princess Luxury Bed, dreamy pillows, soft sheets and block-out curtains, which virtually guarantee a good night's sleep. From bed you can watch the wall-mounted, flat-screen television loaded with free and on-demand movies and TV shows. The line's own morning show, presented by the cruise director and filmed in the onboard studio, discusses the day's events. News channels include Fox, BBC and CNBC. Also available on the infotainment system are a webcam, ship and port information and your account details.

There is plenty of storage in drawers and on shelves, a wardrobe, desk and chair, mini-fridge, kettle, hair dryer and a safe. Two USB ports are located beside the bed to charge devices, along with an Australian power point (as well as US and European outlets). Fresh fruit and bathrobes are available; just ask your cabin attendant.

Bathrooms are compact, with toilet, basin, mirror, storage shelves, towels and facecloths. The walk-in shower has a non-clinging curtain, dispensers for shower gel and shampoo and a handy ledge to prop up a foot for shaving your legs or storing your toiletries. Other provided toiletries include soap, body lotion and tissues. Some suites also have a bath and receive a welcome pack containing lip balm, loofah, emery board and sleeping mask.

Majestic Princess has 10 interconnecting balcony cabins (at three berths each) and 10 interconnecting mini-suite cabins (also three berths each), so families of up to six can book two connecting cabins.

Interior: Measuring 166 to 175 sq. ft each, 342 interior cabins are found on decks 8 through 16. There are no windows in these cheaper rooms.

Balcony: Comprising the majority of accommodation, there are 716 balcony cabins and 312 deluxe balcony cabins on decks 8 through 16. Standard balcony cabins measure 222 square feet, including relatively small 41-sq. ft balconies with a stool-sized table and mesh chairs. Deluxe cabins measure 249 to 333 sq. ft, also including 41-sq. ft balconies with loveseat-style seating that can accommodate a third person.

Mini-suite: 374 mini-suites are located on decks 10 to 16, ranging from 299 to 329 sq. ft including balconies from 36 to 105 sq. ft. Angled balconies midship have larger outdoor space so try to book one of those. There is a seating area with full-size sofa bed, coffee table and chair, separated from the bed area by a curtain; both sections have their own TV. Bathrooms have shower/tub combinations. Balconies are equipped with a pair of mesh, reclining chairs, an ottoman, and a dining-height table, but are pretty tight, space-wise. Passengers in mini-suites get welcome glasses of Champagne and a starter mini-bar setup, including mini bottles of alcohol, beer and sodas; after the initial supply is used, you must request refilling -- and pay a fee -- for all beverages.

Suite: 36 suites come in three categories: Penthouse (Deck 14), Premium (decks 9 through 12) and Owner's (decks 8 to 15). Penthouse Suites, located midship, offer 440 sq. ft of space including separate sleeping and living areas with a couch, table and chairs, marble bathroom with separate tub and shower, and 72-sq. ft balconies with two wood chairs, two loungers and a larger table. Premium Suites, located forward on the ship, are 554 sq. ft with 69-sq. ft balconies offering a little more privacy. Owner's Suites, at the aft corners on each deck, are 587 to 682 sq. ft including wraparound 158-sq. ft balconies. A sofa bed accommodates extra passengers in all suites.

Suite passengers get upgraded amenities including in-room DVD/CD players, complimentary laundry and dry-cleaning, and a one-time mini-bar setup. (The initial mini-bar selection of soft drinks, alcohol and water is free; once the bar is restocked, passengers pay per item.) They have a complimentary breakfast served at the Crown Grill restaurant, which is open exclusively to suite passengers in the morning, and access to snacks and drinks in the Concierge Lounge on Deck 14 where staff are also on hand to arrange shore excursions or dinners at the alternative restaurants.

Deck 4 - Gala
Deck 5 - Plaza
Deck 6 - Fiesta
Deck 7 - Promenade
Deck 8 - Emerald
Deck 9 - Dolphin
Deck 10 - Caribe
Deck 11 - Baja
Deck 12 - Aloha
Deck 14 - Riviera
Deck 15 - Marina
Deck 16 - Lido
Deck 17 - Sun
Deck 18 - Sports
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3 - 33
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