Back in 1975, Princess Cruises, home of Crown Princess Cruises, was a small, Los Angeles-based cruise line with a single star in its lineup, the 640-passenger, 20,000-gross ton Pacific Princess sailing cruises to
the Mexican Riviera. The company's fortunes changed overnight, as in
all good stories about princesses, when a group of Hollywood television
producers selected the ship to star in a new series that became one of
the biggest hits in television history. The Love Boat was the vehicle
that eventually transported tiny Princess Cruises into one of the
cruise industry's Big Four cruise lines. So closely was the Princess
Cruises name aligned with the slogan The Love Boat that the company
kept the phrase as its official motto nearly until the end of the 20th
But Princess Cruises never rested on its television spotlight
laurels. Today's fleet is comprised of fifteen elegant vessels, each of
them magnitudes larger than the original Pacific Princess. The company
still does regular cruises to the Mexican Riviera, but you'll also find
its ships sailing in the Caribbean, Asia, Panama Canal, Alaska, Europe,
and even Tahiti. The line has a loyal following because of the
consistency of its product, and the loyalty of Princess' regulars has been rewarded with a variety of ships and itineraries.
Always an innovative company, Princess manages to stay at the
frontline of cruise quality and customer service. Examples of the
line's innovation include the first Cajun and Creole restaurants at sea
(on Coral and Island Princess), and the ScholarShip@Sea Program (on
Coral, Island, Diamond and Sapphire Princesses), offering an enviable
range of educational and hobby-oriented classes.
The British parent company of Princess Cruises, P&O (Peninsular
and Oriental Steam Navigation Company), began nearly 200 years ago as
one of the great British shipping companies. As the jumbo jet gradually
made liner crossings a thing of the past, the company turned to cruising,
and operated both Princess Cruises and a number of European divisions
until its 2003 merger with Carnival Corporation, which created the
world's largest cruise company.
The most seasoned ships in the current Princess fleet are the
70,000-ton 1,590-passenger Regal Princess (1991) and the 77,000-ton,
1,950-passenger sister ships Sun Princess (1995), Dawn Princess (1997)
and Sea Princess (1998), the last of which re-joined the fleet in April
2005 after two years as P&O's Adonia. The Royal Princess (1984) was
transferred to P&O Cruises the following month.
The fleet also comprises four Grand-class ships, the 109,000-ton,
2,600-passenger Grand Princess (1998), Golden Princess (2001), Star
Princess (2002) and the 113,000-tons 3,100-passenger Caribbean
Princess. Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess, two 116,000-ton,
2,670-passenger sister ships, entered the fleet in 2004, sailing to
Alaska and Mexico. They represents the larger Grand-class sister
ships with a myriad entertainment options and plenty of affordable
balconies. A second 113,000-ton ship, similar to Caribbean Princess,
named Crown Princess was delivered in June 2006. A third
3,100-passenger vessel, Emerald Princess, is scheduled to join the
fleet in 2007, a sister ship in Fall 2008.
In August, 2002 Princess acquired two 684-passenger former
Renaissance vessels, renaming them (new) Pacific Princess and the
Tahitian Princess. The latter sails year-round from Tahiti on 10-day
sailings, while Pacific Princess sails half the year from Sydney for
P&O Cruises Australia and half for Princess elsewhere in the
In 2003 Princess added the 92,000-ton sister ships Island and Coral Princess.
All in all, you can board a Princess ship confident that you'll
enjoy a pleasurable mainstream cruise on which the tried and true and
innovative co-exist happily. Princess's smaller ships may be somewhat
dated, but only as old as 1991 for the Regal Princess, so not SO dated.
These older ships make up for their size with exotic itineraries.
Princess's megaships may be some of the biggest at sea - too big to
squeeze through the Panama Canal! ? but they are full of surprises from
reach out and touch the stars discos high above the stern to
out-of-the-way hiding places you may not find until the last day of
The Princess Experience:
Princess Cruises is one of those companies with a reputation for
reliability and consistency. When you board a Princess ship, you know
almost exactly what to expect. At the same time, it seems to have
something of a crystal ball. With Royal Princess, it became the first
mid-price cruise line to offer a large number of cabins with private
Princess was also the first line to offer 24-hour buffet food
service, though it was practically a secret at the time. One can go
anytime for a snack or a meal, including at dinnertime if one does not
feel like dressing up for the dining room. At the time, the idea seemed
revolutionary in cruise circles. Today, it is the norm.
Megaliners aren't everyone's vessels of choice, but Princess
approaches the concept differently. First of all, they carry fewer
passengers, so they are simply less crowded. Rather than one gigantic
dining room, two or three smaller restaurants with etched glass
partitions provide a more intimate dining experience. They divide the
crowd between two main show lounges, one with Broadway-style revues,
the other cabaret, and then switch them, all according to the dining
Public rooms are small and intimate. Caviar and champagne bars give
the passenger a feel for the lap of luxury, as well as the
multi-million dollar art collection and the most gorgeous libraries at
sea, complete with plush leather chairs and earphones for audio tapes.
Princess is known for the innovative aspects of its shore excursions, most notably its Alaska cruise-tours where cruises are combined with shore tour
programs. The land portion features gleaming, two-level railcars with
glass domes and company-owned lodges in Kenai Peninsula, Denali Park,
and Mt. McKinley. When taking an Alaska cruise-tour, however, be very
sure to confirm what's included. In most cases, food and sightseeing are added costs.
There are expanded wireless hotspots for Internet access on ships
throughout the fleet; including availability in the atrium areas of all
14 vessels. Passengers with their own laptops can purchase Internet
access for 35 cents per minute ($10.50 for 30 minutes) at the front
desk. Those whose computers lack a wireless network card may purchase a
'Windows XP' compatible card. Shipboard Internet Cafes feature between
eight and 26 terminals, depending on the vessel. Sun Princess, Dawn
Princess and Regal Princess have all recently opened Internet centers,
most open 24 hours and easily accessed. Selected vessels' libraries
also provide computer stations with direct links to the Internet.
The line's new Movies Under the Stars program, featuring a King
Kong-sized LED screen above the main pool, having debuted on the
Caribbean Princess, is now featured on all Caribbean itineraries. The
line is set to begin offering headphones to those who wish to watch, as
the audio has been prompting complaints from many passengers with
cabins on the decks below.
The laudable Personal Choices dining program offers increased choice
in cruising style. On ships with two or more dining rooms, you may opt
either for traditional assigned two-seating or open restaurant-style
single seating in the other dining room.
Princess' youngish average passengers, fifty-somethings, seem to
prefer the line's one-week Caribbean and Mexico cruises, while the
Alaska cruises seem to attract more and more families. Babyboomers and
their teenagers are occasionally glimpsed on summertime .
On the Panama Canal, Asia, Africa and South America voyages, passengers
are generally over 65. If you're not yet eligible for Social Security,
you're especially likely to feel out-of-place aboard Regal and Royal
Princess. At the other end of the spectrum, Tahitian Princess, a
favorite of newlyweds, has come to be seen as the line's couples ship.
Nobody in this price range gives you more variety than Princess. In
Alaska, Princess's offers pre- and post-cruise land excursions,
including accommodation in Princess' private lodges and separate
sightseeing tours at every stop. In the Caribbean, in addition to the
usual snorkeling and sailing; the intensive Under the Waves scuba
training course enables participants to become certified divers in only
a week. Or there are golf specials and helicopter excursions.
Taking The Kids:
The recently expanded Princess Kids program features complimentary
in-port activities and special educational opportunities, some created
in conjunction with the California Science Center and the National
Wildlife Federation. Grand, Golden, Star and Caribbean Princess have
the most extensive children's activities, while Coral and Island each
has a private disco/coffee club for teenagers. The Junior Ranger
program runs throughout the Alaska season, and there is also a Save our
Seas environmental program.
Princess' Youth Centers offer a full schedule of activities from 9
a.m. to 10 p.m., with two-hour breaks for lunch and dinner, on sea
days. During port days the program runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and again
from 7 to 10 p.m. Parents are given pagers so they may be contacted by
the Youth Counselors. Princess divides kids into one of three groups,
Pelicans (ages 3-7), Princess Pirateers (ages 8-12), and teens (13-17),
for whom the Off Limits centers were specially designed, with a
jukebox, arcade, dance floor with disco lights, and diner-like booths.
At night, teen centers convert to discos open from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Group babysitting for children 3 to 12 is available from 10 p.m. to 1
a.m. for a fee, but no in-cabin babysitting is on offer.
Children's menus are available both in the dining room and the
24-hour restaurant. One night each cruise, there's a gala pizza party
at which kids dine with the youth staff and new friends, allowing
parents to dine with other adults for a change. Personal Choice Dining
is recommended for families who want to dine together in the main
dining room before evening youth activities kick off at 7 p.m.
(Do note that Tahitian Princess and Pacific Princesses have no
dedicated children's facilities, and youth counselors board only when
there are 20 or more children on the passenger list.)
Past Passenger Program:
The Captain's Circle quarterly newsletter includes discount coupons,
and subscribers are regularly advised of special promotions. The four
annual winners of the line's Photo/Essay Contest win free cruises. On
every cruise, there's an on-board cocktail party, shipboard raffle for
logo prizes; and onboard recognition for most-traveled passenger. For
more information call 1-800-PRINCESS.
Aboard all ships a charge of $10 per person (including children) per
day is added automatically to your stateroom account for dining and
stateroom personnel. This applies whether you choose traditional or
personal choice dining. The amount may be increased or lowered at the
Purser's Reception desk during the cruise. A 15% gratuity is
automatically added to all Princess beverage tabs. Gratuities for spa,
casino and other staff are at your discretion.