Red ribbon cutting ceremonies launching trendy new bars aren’t typically in the realm of cruise ships. Most of the time the bars open their doors on ships’ inaugural debuts just as passengers begin boarding.
But on Grand Princess, a longer-then-expected project to remove the iconic old Skywalkers – and build the brand new One5 – meant that passengers on the ship’s first post-refurb cruise didn’t get a chance to sample it. And on this, its second, the bar only just opened midway through.
The launch of the new One5 is a bigger deal than you’d expect. Overheard:
“I was here on Grand Princess when Skywalkers’ opened, I was here last month when it was removed and I want to be here when One5, its replacement, finally opens. It’s history.”
Indeed, this member of the ship’s pursers staff wasn’t the only one excited to see One5. An impromptu announcement on the squawk box mid-day on Wednesday that the nightclub would open at 9 p.m. and that all passengers were invited purposely didn’t mention the free Champagne (there may have been a ribbon cutting reference but I missed it).
Passengers weren’t there for free booze anyway. The oddest thing about the fact that 100-plus folks were clogged in deck 16’s elevator lobby, waiting to enter? It’s not like, at that time of night, there wasn’t anything else to do onboard Grand Princess. Between Movies Under the Stars, the main theater, torch songs in the Wheelhouse, games in Explorers Lounge and people-watching in Crooner’s, the ship was jumping.
Still, throngs waited impatiently in the elevator lobby on deck 16 (and thanks to the nearing presence of midsummer it was still light outside) for the heavy white doors to open. Where, waiting, with the proverbial red ribbon, were cruise director Martyn Moss, hotel director Herman Stingeder and Captain Anthony Herriott, who purposefully wielded a pair of scissors, and snipped the tape (also on hand was Princess’ lead interior designer Teresa Anderson, who oversaw the décor and layout). In surged the crowds.
The best thing about the new nightclub space? It’s definitely edgy (but yet not too over the top either) and unlike many other lines’ nightclubs (thinking of Royal Caribbean’s crypt-like disco and Celebrity Solstice’s all-indoor venue) this one’s lined with floor to ceiling windows, letting in light. Better yet: there’s an adjacent terrace, with comfortable wicker-like chairs and couches.
Most interesting twist? One5, which is only on Grand Princess at this point, is the first cruise line nightclub that I’ve heard of to offer bottle service, which is typically the purview of big city hotspots that attract B- and C-list television stars. The basic gist of bottle service is that you don’t purchase your normal vodka tonic; instead you order a bottle (say, of Grey Goose vodka – the bottle will run you $110 and comes with five mixers) to be delivered to your table. The appeal? I have no idea.
Other positives: I love the curving booths (great spots to cuddle and/or watch the world go by), the bar is cheerfully colorful, and the dance floor is generous (and close enough to the door leading to the outdoor terrace to let air in when dancers get too hot).
One negative: The adjoining terrace is a smoking-allowed space and the smell (and the smoke) tends to get trapped in there. To avoid it wander on over to the identical terrace that’s adjacent to the wedding chapel.
While clearly this nightclub is aimed at the sensibilities of a younger and trendier cruise traveler than I, what was really fun about the scene Wednesday night (and again last night) is that Grand Princess’ more traditional passengers were made quite welcome and, it appeared, the ambience made us all feel more young-at-heart too.
Read our full blog series: We’re Cruising on the New Grand Princess!