Cruise Ships 2012, The Year In Review: Princess Cruises

Continuing Shawn J. Dake’s
Cruise Ships 2012, The Year In Review

GRAND PRINCESS. Photo © Peter Knego August 29, 2012
GRAND PRINCESS. Photo © Peter Knego August 29, 2012

Princess Cruises continued their large-scale refurbishment program which last year saw a huge makeover of the GRAND PRINCESS. Following a three-week refit, the SAPPHIRE PRINCESS returned to service on February 4th. Among the more notable new additions are the redesigned Piazza Atrium with the International Café and Vines Wine Bar, Alfredo’s Pizzeria which is a new sit-down restaurant with an open kitchen, and the addition of “Movies Under The Stars” on a giant LED screen poolside. All of the other vessels in the current fleet already had this feature.

A huge norovirus outbreak hit much of the cruise industry in February and affected two of the big Princess ships. Both the RUBY PRINCESS and CROWN PRINCESS were returning to Ft. Lauderdale from 7-day Caribbean cruises. A total of 90 passengers and crew were ill aboard the former, while another 158 people on the CROWN PRINCESS got sick. After being thoroughly sanitized the ships set out on their next voyages, but another outbreak forced the CROWN PRINCESS back to port early for two days of cleansing. Of the 3,078 guests onboard, 226 passengers and 63 crew again became ill on the shortened voyage. All passengers were given full refunds and a 25% future cruise credit.

Nagging propulsion problems sidelined the CARIBBEAN PRINCESS for much of the month of March. Perhaps the biggest event of the year was the floating of the largest Princess ship to date, the new 141,000 gross ton ROYAL PRINCESS which took place August 16th at the Monfalcone, Italy yard of Fincantieri. The third ROYAL PRINCESS is 1,083 feet long and 125 feet in beam, making her the largest ever built by Fincantieri. The 3,600 double occupancy passengers will be accommodated in 1,780 cabins, 1,438 of which (81%) have balconies. The newest ship will be delivered in May, 2013 with a sister arriving in the spring of 2014. The keel for that ship, which will be named REGAL PRINCESS was laid on August 28th. A third vessel with the same dimensions will go to P&O in 2015.

MV ROYAL PRINCESS (3) under construction at Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard.  Courtesy of Fincantieri.
MV ROYAL PRINCESS (3) while under construction at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard. Courtesy of Fincantieri.

As Carnival Corporation looks to expand into new markets around the world, it was announced that the SUN PRINCESS will relocate to Japan for a three-month cruising season in 2013. They expect to carry approximately 18,000 Japanese passengers in the inaugural year.



Shawn Dake is a freelance photo-journalist and regular contributor to  For more than a decade he has written his annual “Cruise Ships, The Year In Review” which has now grown to a nearly 15,000 word essay recalling all of the events that have taken place within the cruise industry the previous year.


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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