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Game on: New Royal Princess will offer bevy of fitness options

By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel

3:22 PM EDT, July 19, 2012

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It used to be the only way you'd lose weight on a cruise was if you couldn't handle the waves, but exercise is serious business these days and Princess Cruises has taken on the fitness challenge with its new Royal Princess cruise ship.

The most unique new offerings are an outdoor circuit program, a private aerobics studio, a batting cage and a simulated laser shooting range.

"Many of our passengers are very active on vacation," said Jan Swartz, executive vice president for Princess Cruises. "These new facilities will offer them state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge classes to keep up -- or even step up -- their fitness routines at sea."

Of course ships take pride in their jogging tracks, and the Royal Princess will feature a double-lane version on Deck 18 with paths for runners and walkers. Along the way will be a series of exercise stations similar to courses you find at public parks. For flair, the track will feature art of iconic global travel destinations.

Sports Central is located on decks 18 and 19 with space for court games including tennis, basketball, volleyball and badminton. Also here will be the portable batting cage, a driving-range facility for golfers and the laser shooting range.

For those who miss the touch and feel of grass while at sea, Princess has you covered. The Lawn Court allows for putting, bocce, croquet and lawn bowling. Also in Sports Central is the Game Lounge for table tennis and virtual gaming.

For those seeking personal exercise options, there's the fitness center with aerobics studio on Deck 17 touting the latest equipment with personal TV screens and interactive, virtual programs with which to run, bike or climb along.

The private aerobics studio will offer a variety of classes including TRX, a suspension training bodyweight exercise, MyRide an indoor cycling program, Body Sculpt Boot Camp and Chi Ball Yoga, feauturing an aromatherapy-scented ball.

Keel-laying for the ship happened last October and construction of the 3,600-passenger, 141,000-ton ship continues at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy with an expected float out this summer. The ship is set to debut June 2013.

The ship design features some new and noteworthy features including a see-through, glass-enclosed walkway called the SeaWalk that will venture out over the water from the top deck 128 feet above the water. That starboard-side feature will be coupled with the port-side SeaView bar, also featuring see-through glass flooring that juts out over the open water.

The ship should also stand out from the rest of the line's fleet with an expanded atrium, private poolside cabanas that appear to float on the water, a dazzling water and light show, an expanded version of the adults-only haven The Sanctuary and the poolside theater, "Movies Under the Stars."

As far as staterooms, 80 percent of the ship's cabins will feature a balcony.

The ship will begin sailing in June 2013 for a summer in the Mediterranean before relocating to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale in October 2013 for a winter Caribbean cruising season.

The Royal Princess will become the 17th ship in the fleet and will be followed in spring 2014 by a sister ship that has yet to be named. In May of this year, a previous ship named Royal Princess was transferred to sister cruise line, P&O Cruises, which is also owned by Carnival Corp. That ship joined the Princess fleet in 2007 from Swan Hellenic, and had been sailing as MS Minerva II, but was originally built in 2001 for the now defunct Renaissance Cruises.

The new ship will be the third Princess vessel to carry the name. The first Royal Princess joined the fleet in 1984, and was inaugurated by Diana, Princess of Wales, before being transferred to P&O Cruises in 2005 and renamed MS Artemis.

rtribou@tribune.com, 407-420-5134