Despite being a US-based cruise line, Princess Cruises is hugely popular with British travellers due to the large number of sailings departing from, or arriving into, Southampton. This year alone, travellers can opt for week-long cruises around France and Spain, voyages to the spectacular Norwegian Fjords, trips around the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, or even transatlantic crossings to Florida, Texas, or New York. All in all, there are more than 100 individual itineraries to choose from, and more than 300 ports included in Princess Cruises’ rota. With so much choice, the cruise line is certainly earning their reputation as one of the world’s most amazing cruise companies.
Princess Cruises are also popular for their wide range of cruise tours which extend a cruise holiday and allow for more time to explore fascinating destinations. This is a cruise line that really places a great deal of emphasis on the importance of the destinations, as well as the ship itself. These tours allow for areas to be discovered which can’t usually be visited as part of a shore excursion due to time restraints, such as the beautiful French countryside, Italy’s breathtaking Lake Como, interior Alaska, or the Canadian Rockies. Princess Cruises have certainly come a long way from their humble beginnings in the 1960s.
The History of Princess Cruises
What’s interesting is that the forming of Princess Cruises happened somewhat by accident! As one of the world’s biggest, most prominent, and most luxurious cruise lines today, it’s hard to imagine what the cruise industry would be like without the line’s fantastic ships in operation, but that’s almost what happened. Princess founder Stanley McDonald was a mere Canadian business owner who was given the task of transporting public artwork, fairground rides, and even people to the Seattle World Fair in 1962. The quickest and most cost effective way to do so was by chartering a ship, and it’s this which gave McDonald a taste for life at sea.
Keen to get back on the water, but without the funds to do so, McDonald chartered an Alaskan cruise ship – Princess Patricia – during her off season for a bargain price. Rather than having her sat idle in the icy Alaskan waters, McDonald brought Patricia down to the Mexican Riviera, hoping to generate a bit of added revenue. Did it work? Not at all! Patricia had been designed for the cool climate of Alaska and had no air conditioning. Passengers were sweltering. No wonder McDonald got such a good deal on the charter!
And so this was the end of Princess Cruises, over before it began. That is, until the arrival of the Italia. Italia was one of the most advanced ships of its day – it included more public spaces than had ever been seen before – and as such it took what seemed like an eternity to build it. In fact, it took so long that the ship’s owners went bankrupt before they could see the finished vessel. The ownership of poor Italia was transferred to the bank, who searched for a company to buy or charter the unwanted vessel. McDonald decided to have one last go at breaking into the cruise industry, and it’s a good job he did, as Princess Italia is essentially the ship that launched the company.
The 1970’s proved a pivotal time in the development of the modern day Princess Cruises. In 1968, Princess had been purchased by Boise Cascade but in 1970 Stanley McDonald took the decision to repurchase Princess and things began to blossom once more. In 1972, the original Island Princess joined the fleet, which at the time had been formerly known as Venture. The very first Princess Tours were also founded during this time.
It all began in the mid-70s when television producer Douglas S. Cramer, who had created the popular television series Love American Style, decided to transplant his popular comedy vignette series from its studio setting to the environs of a modern cruise ship. The resulting television show, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1997, has been widely credited with introducing millions of viewers to the concept of a contemporary cruise vacation, and the dramatic expansion of the industry to its current size.
After the 1977 pilot show, which was shot aboard the line’s original Sun Princess in Mexico, Cramer teamed up with top television producer Aaron Spelling and The Love Boat went on to enjoy phenomenal success, continuing for 10 seasons until 1987 as one of the highest-rated prime-time television shows in the country. Princess soon became a household name as the star of the popular series, and continues to be known as the “Love Boat” line today. With Pacific Princess and Island Princess the original floating stars of the show, The Love Boat was filmed aboard many of Princess’ ships in destinations around the globe. All six original Love Boat cast members — Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher), Ted Lange (Isaac), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Lauren Tewes (Julie) and Jill
Whelan (Vicki) — reunited for the first time in more than a decade to christen Dawn Princess in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Whilst Princess made the agreement to provide the backdrop, the cruise line, producer, TV companies and stars of the show had no idea of the fame the series would achieve over the years. “The Love Boat” began filming in 1976 and it is because of strong ties the cruise line has to the show that we see regular “Love Boat Sales” today. Princess Cruises also marked their appreciation and acknowledgment of the original agreement by turning new ship, Royal Princess’s funnel sound into the tune of “The Love Boat” theme.
In 1980 Stanley McDonald departed the company, Princess began calling at the first private Caribbean Island in the Grenadines and the original Royal Princess joined the fleet. Royal Princess took cruising to a new level with a range of wow factors at the time. Innovative ship features and outside staterooms took the industry by storm as the cruise line continued to grow. By 1985 Princess decided it was time for the first Mediterranean dedicated season and the ship to be used for such sailings was Pacific Princess.
The 1980’s continued to see Princess Cruises gain a stronger foothold in the cruising market as Sea Princess joined the fleet from P&O (formerly Kungsholm). Sea Princess instantly made headlines under the Princess banner as she headed for Alaska and the line introduced the new “Voyage of the Glaciers” route. It was in 1987 that the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge first opened and the line had such success that they decided to expand even further, increasing itinerary choices to provide Caribbean, Asia and Northern Europe sailings.
In 1990 the Princess Cruises loyalty program was launched. Known as the Captain’s Circle club, the loyalty program still remains today and whilst it has taken many different forms and seen changes over the years, the original ideology behind it still remains today.
Whilst the 1990’s saw many ships come and go in the Princess fleet, arguably the main attraction for the cruise line were the arrivals of Sea Princess and Grand Princess in 1998. Sea Princess provided a wonderful choice of balcony staterooms for passengers whilst Grand Princess was the lines biggest ship to date and set the trend for many super liners after her. Grand Princess’s design and build became the blue print for many more Princess ships along with other cruise lines. “Love Boat: the Next Wave” also debuted in 1998 along with the first wedding chapel and wedding program at sea.
The Modern Day Princess Cruises
The cruise line enjoyed many exciting innovations and development during the 2000’s but the most recent highlights include the new Royal Princess joining the fleet in 2013, christened by The Duchess of Cambridge. Sister ship, Regal Princess will join the fleet this year and in 2015, Princess Cruises will celebrate their 50th anniversary. This brings us perfectly into Princess Cruise’s new 2015 calendar.
Come Back New in 2015
Princess Cruises are drawing upon their own history with their brand new campaign – Come Back New. Just as Princess Cruises themselves did back in the 1960s when they came back with a bigger, better ship than ever before, the cruise line are encouraging passengers to do the same. In fact, they’re claiming that it’s not a ‘cruise’ unless you ‘come back new’, having learnt a new skill, made a new friendship, had a new experience, tried new foods, explored new places and so on. Some cruises lines market themselves either based on the destinations they sail to, or the offerings on board each ship, but this campaign is different. Princess Cruises are focusing on each individual’s personal experience, and how cruising can enhance everyday lives, rather than merely being part of a once-a-year holiday.
A cruise really is what you make it, so how will you come back new? Will you enjoy a new experience on board the latest addition to the Princess Cruises fleet – Regal Princess? Will you try a glass of Don Melchor in the Crooner’s Bar rather than your usual zinfandel? How about dinner in Alfredo’s one night, rather than in the main dining room? Or perhaps learn how to play golf in the indoor driving range? The choices are endless!
What about 2014?
Princess Cruises are offering a great selection of itineraries between April and October 2014 at their best ever prices! Take in exciting destinations across Europe and the Mediterranean with fares starting from as little as £549pp PLUS $200 free on board spend. Sail from Southampton for a range of departures between 7-28 nights, at these prices, can you really afford to miss out!
To see the latest Princess Cruises Europe offers click here.
THAT’S NOT ALL! Soak up the sun on the shores of the South Pacific. Watch whales from your own private balcony in Alaska. Discover secret coves in the Caribbean. Experience the vibrant coasts of North America. Princess Cruises promise you will come back new.
Book selected 2014/15 Princess Cruises now & enjoy discounted cruise fares plus; Up to £300pp off flights booked through Princess Cruises OR Up to $500 On Board Spend per couple. Cruise only fare start from as little as £499pp!! To see more click here.