Earlier this week, CSI+ Members enjoyed a taste of the Princess Cruises experience onboard Sky Princess. Members and VIPs flocked to Southampton, where they were greeted warmly by the CSI+ squad and the amazing Princess Cruises onboard hospitality team. Guests were ushered up to the Vista Lounge on deck floor and mingled to the toe-tapping sounds of the inhouse band, playing upbeat contemporary and vintage hits for the networking crowd. 

Soon, waiters were gliding through the gathered crowd with trays of colourful cocktails. Guests sipped the jewel-tone confections as their hosts for the day announced the order of events. Rebecca Thomson Foley, Senior Director of Operations Cruise Line, Princess Cruises acted as master of ceremonies for the event. With signature warmth and humour, she introduced the attending Princess Cruises staff, including Sky Princess’ very own Captain Heikki Laakkonen. Next, she handed over to CSI+ networking maven Claudia Gurr who extended her own thanks to the networking event’s sponsors, Jacco van Overbeek, Director Maritime Division, Bolidt Synthetic Products & Systems and Monique Mik, Sales & Purchase Cruise, Robos Contract Furniture BV. 

Exploration, networking and lunch

This CSI+ social featured a tour of the ship’s suites and staterooms, allowing the attending CSI+ members to get up close and personal with the interiors. Members and VIPs mingled in intimate groups, swapping observations about the design, discussing projects and making new connections. Princess Cruises opened the doors to their Inside Staterooms, Mini Suites, Window Suites, Penthouse Suite and the expansive Sky Suite. While we walked we caught glimpses of the spa area, Sanctuary, the chapel, the Take Five jazz bar and other public and suite-exclusive spaces.

After the tour it was time to tuck in to good food and even better networking, as we all reunited for lunch at the Estrella dining room. Throughout our time on the ship, the level of service was outstanding, and attendees felt they really had experienced the level of care felt by Princess Cruises’ guests. This was brought to the fore in the dining room, as swathes of white coated staff stood poised to personally escort each guest to their table. As we tucked into a three course meal, Members and VIPs, who were seated according to seating plan, got to know each other better.

A glimpse at Sun Princess

Guests returned to the Vista Lounge, where Rebecca Thomson Foley took the reins for a fascinating presentation about Princess Cruises’ approach to unifying hotel operations and interior design. Rebecca led a presentation about the stunning Princess Cruises newbuild Sun Princess, alongside Lorna Warren, Vice President Hotel Operations, Princess Cruises. The pair highlighted that even with modern design workflow, which involves greater participation from hotel operations teams than ever before, guests still have the final say in how they use the space.

For example, during Sun Princess’ maiden voyages Rebecca and Lorna noticed that guests were congregating in the Sphere atrium during the daytime, relaxing in the sunny, airy space. Although this wasn’t how the team had initially planned the space to be used at this time, they were happy to shape the space according to guest desires. Quickly, they added live music to perform in the Sphere during the daytime. Tech advances has helped bring the ethos of Sun Princess, which is ‘An evolution, not a revolution’. The Piazza, already a popular venue, will now feature a full-length LED screen that closes, a floor that raises and aerial performance capabilities.

Flexibility was extended beyond the programming and into the design. Staterooms and suites received particular attention during the strategic planning stage, with the average per ship number of suites and staterooms jumping from 50 to 80 with Sun Princess. Other subtle tweaks were made within the cabin, with the brand switching to the European style of duvet, which has proved popular with guests. The design of these suites were deliberately kept neutral, with the intention of replacing the pillows, linens and FF&E every five years. 

What’s next?

Rebecca and Lorna delved even further into the design and hospitality thinking behind Sun Princess, until our time on the ship was up. We passed passengers preparing to enjoy their travels as we disembarked. Sky Princess was bustling with guests ordering sparkling wine, relaxing at a window and soaking up the elegant and warm Princess Cruises atmosphere. Although our time with Princess Cruises was at an end, it was a pleasure to bring our day to a close among people humming with such anticipation.

After such a fantastic event with new friends and old, the CSI+ team are also buzzing with excitement for the future. The CSI+ community will meet again in Miami, 10 April for an evening of networking in the Miami beach area.