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July 16, 2022

The Discovery Princess Review: What You Need to Know About This High Tech Cruise Ship

Is now the right time to book a cruise on the Discovery Princess? This new ship from Princess Cruises set sail in spring 2022 and I was on board to test it out. Here's our full and frank Discovery Princess review.

See also our cruise packing hacks.

Discovery Princess At Sea

Ready to book? Save your space on a wonderful, all-inclusive cruise with the brand new Discovery Princess here. Enjoy its MedallionClass® technology and beautiful rooms as standard and consider including drinks, Wi-Fi, and crew appreciation by upgrading to the Princess Plus package for only £40pp per day. Worried about all the travel uncertainty? Check out their cancellation policy here.

The Discovery Princess Ship Review

Disclosure - I travelled as a guest of Princess Cruises for review purposes. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. If you book or buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Cheers!

Discovery Princess Cruise Ship - view to the Bridge over the ocean

View from my stateroom on the Discovery Princess

One door closed, another slid open and I stepped onto my balcony, champagne in hand. So this was it. My first big ocean cruise. 

Moments ago, I'd stood on the shore, gazing up at the sharp like, shark like white gleaming ship that seemed big enough to block out the sun. A few minutes later, glittering lights and golden polish swirled around the central piazza and its glass elevators, with people, excitement, the anticipation of escape and celebration. 

Then up. Up, up, up through glass walled elevators to the 14th or 16th deck, the numbers blurring, the corridors narrowing... to reach my mini-suite stateroom. Spacious, cool blue, cool.

Then knocks at the door, the laughter, friends, the start of a new type of exploration. Up, down, across. Fore, aft, port, starboard. Running tracks and golf courses, giant screens and turquoise pools. Song and sizzle and surefooted dancers. 

For nothing seems to rest, at first, on a Discovery Princess cruise. My first impressions needed to settle. To marinate. Distil. 

And so, eventually, they did. Into this Discovery Princess review.

USA - California - View from Santa Monica

Leaving Los Angeles on the new Discovery Princess cruise ship

First timer? Why ship reviews matter

Until your first voyage on your first big ship, it's hard to understand why people pay such close attention to the ship itself. After all, most people don't investigate the ins and outs of the aeroplane they fly on when booking an airline ticket. Or even, all that much, their hotel.

But after you've spent just one night at sea, never mind five to fourteen, it's not only easier to see why the shape of the ship matters. It becomes essential. 

With days spent at sea, the ship herself becomes a character, a fellow passenger on your voyage. And just as you wouldn't undertake a long trip with a stranger (or would you?) so it makes sense to get to know your ship before you go.

Discovery Princess - taking photos of the ship

Hey, good lookin!

Discovery Princess Review - Piazza Welcome Aboard with live music-1

Too big for a single shot...

The New Discovery Princess

The Discovery Princess launched in early 2022, whisking me to Mexico and back from LA just before its naming ceremony on 29th April 2022. 

Captain Gennaro Arma described her as a "magnificent ship" as we set sail from San Pedro and there's no doubt that any craft which can transport 3660 passengers and 1346 crew, yet creates the feeling that you're on only person alone in the world,  has reached stellar levels of technical excellence. 

But most people, I'm guessing, have only a fleeting interest in the bulge of the bilge and other such matters. 

Most people, I'm guessing, want to know about what's on board. 

So let's leave my salty sea dog comparisons alone for a while and get right down to business. And look inside the ship and the packages in this Discovery Princess review.

First time cruise questions: what do you do all day?

Ah, if I had a pound for every time someone asked me that on my first big cruise! On our trip from Los Angeles to Mexico, we had two "sea days." That means, as the name suggests, you're at sea all day with no time in port. 

So what do you do all day?

A lot. Or nothing at all, as you prefer. 

You can sit on your balcony in a beautiful meditative trance and watch the ocean glide by in your own private world. Or, you can check out the rest of the ship. 

I'll go into more detail further on in this Discovery Princess review, but for now, think: sudoku challenges, singles get togethers, morning stretch routines, golf tournaments, acupuncture consultations, quizzes, teeth whitening consultations, cocktail lessons, DJ sessions, live music, afternoon tea, basketball shoot outs, movies beneath the stars, Lotto draws, shop sales, production line ups and more, more, more. 

Discovery Princess Review - Movies under the Stars Main pool and hot tubs

Movies Under the Stars - and in the pool

Stand Out Spots

  • The Piazza - take the idea of a European piazza and surround it with golden spiral stairs, glass walled elevators, live music and an unapologetic sense of glitz. Throw in some fresh coffee and delicate chocolates and you have the piazza.
  • Movies Under the Stars - a gigantic open air screen. Blankets are handed out for evening screenings.
  • Good Spirits - a cosy bar with a round the world in 80 days atmosphere. Also gives cocktail lessons if you're interested. 
Discovery Princess Captain Address during Sail Away Party

The Captain's Address During the Sail Away Party

A Chat with the Captain

Captain Gennaro Arma headed up this crew of over one thousand and safeguarded the lives of another 3000 or so passengers. Yet in between all this, he made time to answer my questions. 

Questions included my own and those asked by readers via instagram stories. Want to be involved next time around? Head to instagram and join in!

1. How did you get into this line of work?

I think it's mainly due to the fact that when I was little my mother watched all the episodes of Love boat…J

Being a Captain was my dream as a child. I come from Sorrento a small village by the sea along the beautiful Amalfi coast. There is a long history of great and legendary seafarers and a historic nautical college in the area. I always wanted to be part of that history and link my name to the tradition of my village. Starting this career has always been my desire.

2. What’s the best part of the job?

There are several and I could talk for hours. Let's say that being at sea is one of them. 

The possibility of going around the world, discovering new places, meeting different people each with their own story. 

As a Master Mariner manoeuvering the vessel in and out of the ports. Coaching junior officers.

This job is unique and fascinating, every day is never the same as the one before. We are floating smart cities and there are always new situations, new challenges. It's a dynamic and always changing environment and you never get bored.

3. What’s the worst?

Being away from your family.

4. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to become a cruise ship captain?

It is a beautiful job that requires sacrifice but in return gives a lot of satisfaction. 

There must be a deep passion for the sea and for challenges. 

After all, the sea is a challenge and a Captain accepts that challenge every day.

5. What is Princess doing to make cruise ships a greener, more sustainable way to travel?

The list is very long, starting from the installation of the MBR system (Membrane Bio-Reactor) to treat the Grey Water (Accommodations) and Black Water (Toilet and Medical Center) eliminating solids, the treated effluent has a very high clarity and significantly reduced pathogen concentration not harmful to sea life.

We have installed the AAQS (Advance Air Quality System): commonly referred to as exhaust gas cleaning systems or “scrubbers,” a significant technological innovation designed to improve air emissions, meet and exceed environmental regulatory standards and support sustainable operations in the global shipping industry reducing the emission of CO2/SO2 from the exhaust gas funnel. Shore Power (Cold Iron): Use of port electricity grid to power the ship while in port, being able to shut down propulsion and auxiliary engines and rely on the ship-to-shore connection to fulfil the energy demands, eliminating up to 90% of the vessel’s emissions at berth, thus contributing to reducing global maritime emissions, especially if the land-based power source is environmentally friendly. (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, Juneau).

Our ships are fitted with Biodigesters to decompose the food waste and transform it in liquid form, for a less invasive kind of waste as well as Dehydrator to decompose the food waste and transform it in ground form, good for compost and gardening. We have enforced an effective Recycling Program collecting and desegregating waste like glass, plastic, aluminium, tin, wood and scrap metal and land ashore as recycle in order to repurpose them. We only use for our day to day operations Environmentally Friendly Chemicals which are not harmful to the environment.

Read more about the important issues surrounding Princess and sustainability here.

6. What does everyone always ask you?

Who is driving the ship? Can we take a picture? Are you married?

7. What do you wish people asked you?

It is not important what they ask, it is important for me to know that they are enjoying their time onboard and that they appreciate the hard work of all teammates. 

After all this is the reason why I and my 1300 discoverers are here, to give our guests the best time of their lives and create memories that will last a lifetime.

8. What happens to people who misbehave on the ship?

It depends on the degree of misconduct.

Normally we discuss and reiterate the protocol of conduct that exists for both guests and crew.

In some rare extreme cases the person is discharged from the vessel at the first port.

Thank you for your time.

My pleasure,

Captain Gennaro Arma

Discovery Princess Review - Mini-Suite Bedroom Area

Inside my Mini-Suite on the Discovery Princess

Rooms on the Discovery Princess

For some, a room is just a place to crash for a few hours before the fun begins again. For others, and I'm definitely one of this latter group these days, the room is your sanctuary and will have a huge bearing on how much you enjoy your trip. 

I stayed in a gorgeous mini-suite on the 14th deck, which I'd highly recommend. 

But here are the overall staterooms and options. 

The Sky Suite

Top of them all is the Sky Suite, the place that can host up to five guests and which comes with a 270 degree panorama and its own dedicated Suite Experience Manager. With 1000 square feet of balcony (the largest in the Princess fleet) and a living room and dining room space, it's perfect for families and for getting a real sense of the sea and sky. You'll find two Sky Suites on the Discovery Princess.

Then there are the extras: reserved seating at the theatre, a deluxe telescope for stargazing, a complimentary Princess Fine Wine tasting and more. More like premium champagne on arrival, a full bar with mixers, complimentary access to the Enclave, a reserved Princess Cays bungalow and balcony dinner. Phew.

  • Check out the full specs and reserve your Sky Suite on Princess here.

Suite

Next up are the Suites, which include more living space than the mini-suites, priority boarding and disembarkation and a full mini bar set up.

Club Class

This builds on the mini-suites by claiming the rooms with the best locations on the ship and adding in some luxurious perks. These rooms have access to Club Class Dining, with no wait, additional menu options and dedicated servers. You'll also get priority boarding and disembarkation plus more. To learn more than this Discovery Princess review can offer, see the Club Class notes from Princess here. 

Discovery Princess Review - Living room area of Mini Suite Cabin

Living area in the stateroom Mini-Suite

Mini-suites

Ah, now we're on to the room where I spent my time. The mini-suite. Decorated in calming and restful blues, the suite felt spacious with a separate sleeping and living area. The bathroom included both a bath and shower, plus the room had a wardrobe and luggage storage area. Absolutely nothing felt cramped and nothing felt like it was going to fall overboard. 

You also receive individual robes, a drink on arrival and turn down service each night.

Balcony Room

Chopping the mini-suite in half, you have the balcony room. The decor is the same but you don't have the living area. Rooms still feel spacious and breezy but you probably wouldn't want to spend as much time in your room and instead roam around the ship. 

Premium Oceanview

The premium oceanview rooms may not have the outdoor balcony... but they have a gorgeous sloping glass ceiling that gives a great view of the sea, sky and stars. 

Accessible Staterooms

Quite rightly, Princess carry a number of wheelchair accessible staterooms with extra space for turning. They also have an accessible desk, roll-in shower with grab bars and a fold-down bench seat plus accessible wardrobes and desks.

Interior

The interior staterooms are the most affordable and, in case it isn't obvious, they don't have a balcony. Neither do they have a window. They do still have a fridge, shower and comfy bed. 

While they can be a great way of testing out a cruise in an affordable manner, some people may find them a little claustrophobic. But if you have a strong stomach and a calm mind, then go for it! Lots of people love them.

Discovery Princess Review Lotus Spa Bottles

It's worth noting that ALL rooms have100% cotton, high thread count linens, private bathrooms, fridges, a desk, hairdryer and other bathroom amentiies, complimentary 24 hour room service, a digital safe, turn down service, US and European plug sockets, bathrobes and fresh fruit. They even have USB charging sockets on the bedside lights.

Discovery Princess Crown Grill

Exquisite dining options aboard the Discovery Princess...

Discovery Princess Popcorn Available at all hours

Plus some more casual options...

Dining on the Discovery Princess

Day or night, you'll find somewhere and something to eat on a Discovery Princess cruise. From bar snacks to Michelin-star chef led menus, you will need several days at sea in order to cross all the places off your list. 

Let's get started:

  • Gigi's pizzeria - fresh pizza made at a restaurant before your eyes
  • The Salty Dog Grill - casual dining on the Top Deck with burgers & the like
  • World Fresh Marketplace - serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a huge array of options and a dedicated pancake station.
  • The International Cafe - first stop after boarding, this 24 hour cafe mixes patisseries with sandwiches and light bites. It's also the best stop for coffee.
  • The Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar - does as the name suggests, with an extra charge.
  • Slice Pizzeria on the Top Deck offers grab a slice hot and tasty pizza
  • Afternoon Tea - relive the good parts of Kate Winslet on The Titanic with the Discovery Princess tea service. 
  • Gelato - Taste real gelato, not ice cream, at the heavenly gelateria.
Discovery Princes Review - Greek Salad
Breakfast pastries on Discovery Princess

Specialty Restaurants

Reservations and/or extra charges apply. This becomes clear in the app or if you talk to someone, the old fashioned way.

  • Chef's Table Lumiere - champagne and glitter.
  • Bistro Sur La Mer - Michelin-starred Chef Renault brings French cuisine to a glamorous yet still casual setting.
  • Sabatini's Italian Trattoria - emerald and wooden style Italian diner.
  • The Salty Dog Gastropub - live music and twists on traditional pub fare.
  • The Crown Grill - dark wooden ambiance with top quality cuts of meat.
  • Ultimate Balcony Dining - a luxurious breakfast experience on your own balcony

Dine My way

It's not only about what you eat and where you eat, but how you get from one to the other. Princess have the Dine My Way concept, whereby you can make reservations on your app. Reservations for the main dining room are included, while others attract a small extra charge. 

You can also order snacks and room service, for free, through the OceanNow system and upload your dietary preferences to the OceanReady part of the app. 

It's a lot of new terms and techniques but the reality is far simpler when you're on the ground (sorry, ship.)

Also, guests from Captain's Circle Platinum and Elite members as well as guests booked in Club Class and Suites have early access to the booking system. Getting confused or overloaded? Talk to someone from Princess and they'll help you work it out. 

Discovery Princess Review - cocktail lessons at the Good Spirits Bar

Cocktail lessons are educational, right?

Entertainment on the Discovery Princess

I know we said no more Titanic references, but this collection of activities aboard the Discovery Princess really are the tip of the iceberg. But in a good way. 

Every day, a new agenda appears, with group meet ups, sudoku challenges, art lessons and more. But here are some highlights...

  • Take Five - live tales from jazz legends, salsa classes and pure music. 
  • Vista Show Lounge - all shiny and new, you'll find world class live bands and comedians, illusionists and magicians.
  • The SeaWalk - a fun glass bottomed walkway that extends more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel. Eek!
  • The Theatre - full size with plush chairs and an unobstructed view, catch Broadway style productions with entirely professional casts. Amazing.
  • A Vegas Style Casino if you like a flutter.
  • Shops - for some, this counts as entertainment! And with duty free prices saving you up to 30%, it's worth a look. Brands include Swarovski, Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clinique, Lancôme, Calvin Klein, Citizen and Tissot. Plus accessories for your medallion, including some made from recycled materials, plus other locally sourced products.
  • Cocktail lessons at the Good Spirits Bar.
  • An art gallery with auctions for pieces sold inside.
  • Sports  - you can run around a dedicated track right at the top of the ship or get some laps in during quiet times in the larger pool.
  • TV - alongside well known movies and TV shows, Princess have their own TV series that tackles the tough questions about sustainable travel and community work as well as some fun guides to their ports around the world. Look out for the one on the underwater garden.
  • Wifi - with fast internet, you can connect with the world, right? Despite a lot of grumblings from fellow journalists before we boarded the ship, the wifi was pretty much perfect throughout. 
Discovery Princess Spa Towels
Discovery Princess Jogging Track

Spa and wellness on the Discovery Princess

The older I get, the more that relaxation and recharging matters when I travel. And despite all the razzamatazz, the Discovery Princess is great for that.

As I've mentioned, there's something soothing and intensely private about watching the ocean from your own balcony. 

But beyond that, you will find:

  • The Lotus Spa - a full blown spa on the ship, offering treatments from detoxifying ocean wraps to hot stone massages.
  • The Sanctuary - an adults only pool area with cabanas and a sea breeze.
  • The Lotus Spa Fitness Centre - if you're disciplined enough to sweat at sea. 
  • The Jogging Circuit - outdoors and with the best views.
  • The Princess Luxury Bed - lots of high tech tweaks that really do make it one of the most comfortable beds around.
Discovery Princess Discover New Horizons Mural

Family Travel Options on the Discovery Princess

Now, cruise ships and family travel have a lot going for them as a partnership. For one, you only pack and unpack once, which, when you're lugging around a load of baby gear is a gift. 

Two, for older children, they can have some freedom on the ship while remaining in a safe and secure environment (with MedallionClass® technology you can also track them for extra safety.)

Three, for intergenerational travel, grandparents can also do their own thing and you have access to medical staff if required. You can also track grandparents, too, on MedallionClass® (although they have to accept your request and can also easily turn it off and slip away whenever they sense a babysitting request ;-) )

Most children love swimming pools and movies but even beyond that, and some flexible room configurations, the Discovery Princess has age appropriate kids clubs:

  • The Treehouse for 3-7 year olds
  • The Lodge for 8-12 year olds
  • The Beach House for teens (includes parties and mocktails)
Discovery Princess Review - shore excursions at Cabo San Lucas in Mexico

Trips and Shore Excursions

Of course, for all the chat about the ship itself in this Discovery Princess review, the main point is to travel from A to B and various other letters in the alphabet. 

On our cruise, we travelled from Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, a gorgeous spot of sunshine with pink morning mist hanging over craggy rocks and waterways. 

And I could see seals splashing below and watch the sunset and sunrise all from my balcony. 

Discovery Princess Review - seals spotted swimming in the water in Mexico

My friends and colleagues, however, tested out the Princess shore excursions to the max. I heard tales of pirate ships and snorkels, salty margaritas and swanky hotel bars. 

In short, Princess has shore excursions that you can sign up to to explore any of the many ports they stop off at all around the world.

Note - if you're nervous about a scramble to get off the ship, don't be. Firstly, people are given disembarkation times so it doesn't feel like a crush. Secondly, the ship is so comfortable that there's really no hardship in staying on it for a little while longer! And thirdly, you don't have to join in the tours. You can always do your own thing on shore!

Discovery Princess Review - seat

How to book the Discovery Princess

Right here! Simply click on the Discovery Princess booking link and choose the options you want.

Any questions? Let me know!

Medallion class wristband

No need for cash with the Medallion on Princess

What is MedallionClass®?

MedallionClass® has now been rolled out across the entire Princess fleet. And it's rather nifty. 

Each passenger receives their own medallion on boarding, colour coded to match their status and with their name engraved. But never fear. This isn't a pirate gold medallion with dubloons on either side. 

It's a smart piece of tech which will "identify" you around the ship. You can use it to unlock your room, to order food and drinks and to shop, both on the ship and in participating stores online. 

The most innovative part about it is that if you move before, say, your drink has arrived, the staff can trace you via your medallion and bring it to where you are now. 

Parents can track teens and shipmates can track each other. Or, you can introduce privacy options if that is the last thing you have in mind. No-one else can know your whereabouts on the ship unless you agree to it in advance.

There's also an app and frequent interactive screens around the ship which can pair with your medallion. 

But if that all sounds like overkill, you can still pick up the phone or read a paper map and even make a plan with a fixed time and place.

Best yet? The safety briefing is made easier! Simply watch in your stateroom and then go and present yourself at your Muster Station. Much quicker, much less hanging around...

USA - California - View from Mini-suite balcony stateroom on Discovery Princess Cruise Ship

Princess Plus. Baby.

Discovery Princess Review - Movies under the Stars

The Princess Plus Package

So... All Princess fares include the MedallionClass® technology, accommodation, entertainment and dining other than at specialty restaurants.

Then, the Princess Plus package includes a few more components, all for only £40pp per day:

  • Free wifi for one device (and the wifi was excellent, even when all I could see all around was ocean.)
  • All-inclusive drinks (up to $12 per drink)
  • Crew tips - this helps navigate the minefield that is US gratuities

Simply put, it's a great deal if you plan on having a few drinks and it means you can relax more without having to keep your eye on the running total during your voyage. 

Find out more details about the Princess packages here.

The Discovery Princess Review: High Tech, Relaxing, lots of fun

So, if after reading this Discovery Princess review you feel ready to book, go right ahead! The very first step is to head here to the Discovery Princess booking page and start filling in your details. Still not sure? Ask me a question. I'll always give you an honest answer. 

Cheers for now!

Abi King signature
Discovery Princess Review Golf

Golf on a cruise ship...

Are Carnival and Princess the same?

Yes and no. Carnival Corporation owns Carnival Cruise Line as well as Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Cunard Line, among others.

Book your own wonderful all-inclusive cruise trip with the brand new Discovery Princess here. Enjoy its MedallionClass® technology and beautiful rooms as standard and consider including drinks, Wi-Fi, and crew appreciation by upgrading to the Princess Plus package for only £40pp per day.

Check out their cancellation policy here.

Discovery Princess Review - Piazza Welcome Aboard with live music

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About the author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.

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