Pullmantur´s flagship, it´s not any ship but the essence and origin all megaships we have today. We have to go back to 1987, when Royal Caribbean surprised anyone again. Trying to make cruising something even profitable, and having the Song of Norway as a model, decided to go ahead with the construction of a massive ship, five times bigger, but keeping the same elegant design. The Sovereign is launched in 1998, and christened by the first lady Rosalyn Carter. The dimensions were colossal: 73.192 tons. Not only she surpassed all limits, but was one of the “first” in many aspects, of having for example, panoramic lifts in the lobby. A huge vessel.
When I got to the port, and had a glimpse of her, I loved the ship, and not only for being a classic. The Sovereign is not particularly new, but she looks absolutely sexy. Sharp stern, rounded bow. Tenders in the upper decks, but not too many balconies. Cabins are not exciting but quite well maintained, and were designed in a time when cruises didn´t offer the same confort standards as today. Mine wasn´t too big to be an outside deluxe. There are not too much storage space, and everything is too functional. However the mattress was quite confortable, and I was pleasantly surprised about how big the badroom was. There are also flat screens, safe, hairdryer but not minibar. The Sovereign despite being delightful, it´s a bit odd. A kind of a testing ground where Royal Caribbean materialized its ideas, and at the time, it was really advance in terms of technology and advancements.
As in many other ships of the time, they chose a kind of a vertical arrangement. That´s to say, public areas mainly at the back, and cabins at the front, which was good to minimize noises. It was going to be the first cruise of the season, and a huge line of youngsters make me think for a while “wow, this is going to be wild”. At first sight, we have all the Royal Caribbean distinctive elements. ¿Do you want to know the company´s evolution?. Just get on the Sovereign. We have the big lobby, panoramic lifts with all the public areas around it, and a beautiful buffet at the top of the ship. I didn´t find her as appealing as Vision Class vessels, but the arrangement of the buffet is much better. The pool area is typically Royal Caribbean, and with a decent size, and there´s not any ship with the Viking Crown lounge by the funnel. Boats are on the upper decks. Being an Spaniard vessel, and being us particularly lazy learning languages, I was surprised that all announcements are also in English and it´s not hard to find English speaking crew everywhere on the ship.
Going back to the ship, the Sovereign still has some Song of Norway features, like two restaurants instead of the double level ones of the company later ships. Nowadays, in terms of size, she has been clearly overshaded by other bigger vessels, but she still offers lots of alternatives and options. I was going to have plenty of time to discover her. I really loved the Spinnaker Bar…oppsssss, very similar to Shooner Bar on current RC cruise ships. Tall ship models, sailing objects, and so on. But we have something odd as well, which is a theater is placed at the back of the ship. But I would have plenty of time for a detailed exploration later on. Let´s have lunch before saling. Please, forget the fixed idea that Spaniards don´t make lines. We do, simply they are a bit a relaxed and a bit lively. ¿Lively?, that´s the polite way to say, that my countryfellows are sometimes a bit noisy. It´s a really cheap cruise, all inclusive, but the buffet was more than decent. What did I have?. A really tender like butter fish, garnished with herbs “provencale”.
It´s five o clock, and we all know that Spaniards love parties. ¡Sailing time¡, and this usually means, the best entertainment ever. Get used to late dinning. First seating at 8, “late at ten”. Alternative buffet dinning is an earlier option. Being the first cruise of the season, the sittings were not quite organized, but all small domestic problems were fixed in quick way, and service was really fast. I have to say, that Spanish food tend to be quite good, despite some anglosaxons find it to have too much oil and garlic. Pullmantur is trying to offer a ballaced mixture between international and Spanish delicacies. Its german chef made a perfect job. Babaganoush appetizer with pita bread, which although isn´t quite Spanish, was fantastic; fish with pesto absolutely delicious, and the sugar free ice cream didn´t taste like plastic.
Having been in many cruise lines before, including all the luxury ones, food was going to exceed my expectations. And to clarify something to all skepticals, I am not particularly patriotic, and usually cruise on international cruise lines as well. So I will be unbiased in my article. Shows. Well, I didn´t expect big productions. And the first one was decent, “Night of the eighties” usual stuff. I was afraid of the effect of free alcohol among all the youngsters on board. I´d tell it tomorrow. I was dark outside, and the Sovereing was sailing in a smooth and slow way, to Ajaccio. I soon fell asleep.