Princess Cruises has announced it will be sending the brand new Majestic Princess to Australia on September 15, 2018. She will be homeported in Sydney for the 2018/19 wave season!

You can’t get a better guide for the world’s newest cruise ship that Rai Calouri, executive vice president of Princess Cruises fleet operations.

After all, he helped design the experiences on the Majestic Princess, the latest Royal class vessel that is creating quite a stir in the cruise ship world.

She is in Italy this week but ultimately bound for Shanghai as a purpose build ship for the Chinese market.  But this is a very special ship – an “east-meets-west” cruise ship produced in the Princess mould of international vessel.

Cruise Passenger was on board for her inaugural cruise from Trieste, Italy.  So were Carnival Corporation’s most senior executives.

The Italian Prime Minister turned out for her launch, and the town of Trieste saw her off with thousands of citizens at the dockside.

So what does Rai recommend?

He told us of the 14 must-experience areas of the 19-deck, US$600 million mega ship.

Shopping: We’re talking about serious retail: 11,000 sq feet of Prada, Coach, Cartier, Gucci, Bulgari and more…expect to see more big brands on Princess ships

Harmony: The Chinese restaurant serving up Michelin starred chef Richard Chen. It’s beautiful, stylish design with great food and wine (Princess has stocked Chinese wines and they are delicious!) Rai’s choice: pork belly rib casserole. Cruise Passenger’s choice;  Chilean sea bass.

Karaoke: Sing on the Sea comprises six private suites for serious karaoke.  So break out your Blue Suede Shoes and start practising…

Bubble Tea: It has swept Asia, and it is popular in Australia too.  Prepare to suck it up! Our favourite:  green tea with milk mousse

Mahjong: You can learn to play or toss your tiles with the professionals.  This incredibly absorbing game is a way of life for Chinese players, and at the Vista Gaming Lounge you’ll see all the excitement of a tournament.

Chef’s Table Lumiere: You sit behind a curtain of light while your personal chef provides you with champagne, canapés…here’s a menu from a similar experience on the Royal Princess.

Hors d’Oeuvres in the Galley: includes roast scallop on pea puree, smoked salmon and caviar parcels on pumpernickel, warm buttery provencal mini tartlets and black truffle infusion pizzette with wild mushrooms.

Crispy Sweetbread Stack

Frozen Margarita Sorbet

Roast Lobster Tail & Pancetta Wrapped Noisettes of Lamb

Mille-Feuille of Brie de Meaux (my second favourite bite of the entire cruise)

Chocolate Praline Timbale

Yum! With wine, it costs US$120 pp

Walk on the water:  Some say it’s not for the feint hearted, but the sea walk is your way of walking on water – a glass-bottomed extension of the ship’ deck that allows you to literally take a stroll above the ocean

Paris bistro on the ocean: Created with Chef Emmanuel Renaut, who holds the “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” (Best Craftsmen of France) and Chef of the Year by Le Chef, and whose Flocons de Sel restaurant has received three Michelin stars, La Mer is open bistro dining. Cost: US$35 pp

Fantasy light show: The pool deck contains a stage set for an amazing light and dance show – a first at sea

World Fresh Market: The buffet is dead.  Long live the new individual food stations with everything fresh and made from the bottom up in the Majestic’s kitchens.  The bakery is a feast of cakes and deserts. But don’t worry – the salad bar is just around the corner.

The Enclave: Ok, this is our personal favourite. An amazing spa pool, heated sun beds and FOUR steam rooms with exclusive aromas. You can stay all day for US$39 or buy a cruise pass for the duration.

Seven layer s’mores stack: The Crown Grill is a Princess staple, but in our opinion it’s still the best.  Rai’s favourite is the desert with graham cracker, marshmallow and milk chocolate.  Ours is the French onion soup.

The Hollywood Pool Club: This amazing area is part cabana haven and part enclosed pool.  In chillier climes, you can still rent your own space for the day and have a massage or just chill out! It’s aimed at Chinese guests who don’t like open-air pools and sunshine, but it’s a fabulous respite. Adults only – and at night, it’s a fantastic dance club.

Princess beds: Designed for the best night’s sleep you will ever experience, the mattress is firm for the Asian market where spines are used to hard surfaces.  A cover quickly converts for the western market.  Created for princess by Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., a Clinical Psychologist and both a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 40,000 new beds are being fitted to the fleet.  And guess what:  you can buy them and the linen online.