Cruise Ships 2011, The Year In Review: Princess

Continuing Shawn J. Dake’s:
Cruise Ships 2011, The Year In Review: Princess

Artist's impression ROYAL PRINCESS, courtesy Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises cut the first steel and named their next ship, the 3,600 passenger ROYAL PRINCESS in a ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyards on March 15th.  The 141,000 gross ton vessel is scheduled to enter service in May, 2013.  Its claim to fame, besides being the largest Princess ship ever built, will be a glass-decked “SeaWalk” extending 28 feet over the sides of the ship, 128 feet above the water below.  It will be the third Princess ship to carry this name.

GRAND PRINCESS courtesy Princess Cruises
GRAND PRINCESS' new profile. Courtesy of Princess Cruises.

Princess Cruises performed the greatest rebuilding effort in the history of the company with the spring transformation of the 109,000 gross ton GRAND PRINCESS in the Grand Bahama Shipyard from April 12th to May 4th.  The most notable exterior change was the removal of the iconic, though often reviled, “shopping cart handle” at the stern of the ship.

The Deck 18 overhang housed the Skywalker Nightclub which has now been lowered to become the One5 Lounge named for it’s location on Deck 15.  The change is designed to improve the ship’s operational performance including greater fuel efficiency.  Other changes included a complete rebuilding of the Piazza Atrium, the addition of a Tea Lounge and Library, and ten new suites.  The ship came out in 1998 and many changes in ship design have taken place in the years since.  The GRAND PRINCESS was the company’s first vessel, and the second in the world, to exceed 100,000 gross tons.

DAWN PRINCESS Maiden Arrival at Los Angeles, May 28, 1997. © Shawn Dake

For many years P&O based their oldest ships in Australian waters during the twilight of their careers.  Princess seems to be following the same pattern with the three eldest sisters, SUN PRINCESS, DAWN PRINCESS and SEA PRINCESS (ex SEA PRINCESS, ADONIA) catering to a mainly Australian passenger list with a focus on cuisine and entertainment that appeals to those down under.  The Australian dollar is used on all three vessels, and in stark contrast to the rest of the fleet, no tipping is required.  The 77,441 gross ton class of ships will each offer a roundtrip World Cruise from Australian ports, ranging from 75 to 104 days in addition to shorter itineraries.

Beginning in 2012, Princess Cruises will ban smoking in all cabins and on balconies, restricting the habit to limited spaces on the open decks and a few public areas.

Next up: P & O

Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years.  A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary.  A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs.  Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America.  With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
Shawn Dake
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