‘The Love Boat’ star meets Princess Cruises’ own Gavin MacLeod

What’s in a name? Well, at Princess Cruises the name Gavin MacLeod naturally is associated with the famous TV captain of The Love Boat. But it turns out that the line coincidentally also has a real-life bridge officer with the same name. And the long-time Princess ambassador couldn’t wait to meet him.

When Island Princess Third Officer Gavin MacLeod, who hails from Inverness, Scotland, joined Princess in 2010, he never gave much thought to the fact that he shared a name with the actor who made the role of “Captain Stubing” an iconic part of television history.

But last week when Island Princess called at the port of Los Angeles, the two men met on the ship’s bridge and enjoyed lunch together at Sabatini’s restaurant. The pair also signed several navigational charts to be auctioned for charity.

Frequently filmed aboard Princess ships throughout its 1977-86 run, The Love Boat created a lasting legacy in the cruise industry. Actor Gavin MacLeod has continued his association with the cruise line ever since, serving as an ambassador who travels regularly aboard Princess ships and represents the company at a variety of events throughout the year.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting princess.com.

Royal Princess to feature TV studio with live shows and events

Princess Cruises has raised the curtain on Princess Live!, a new type of cruise ship entertainment venue that passengers will enjoy aboard the new Royal Princess. Taking the audience behind the scenes to share the excitement of a working television studio, the high-tech Princess Live! will showcase live television broadcasts, intimate performances from musicians, and special events such as cooking shows, plus will feature an adjacent café.

Located on Royal Princess’ deck 7 just aft of the Piazza, Princess Live! will be a flexible, 280-seat venue based on a television broadcast studio. When the ship debuts in June 2013, Princess Live! will serve as a venue for daily broadcasts of “The Wake Show” with a new twist – a daily live audience. This popular daily show staring the cruise director and special guests from around the ship is a staple across the Princess fleet, but is rarely staged live.

The colorful Princess Live! studio will also host a variety of events, including game shows, interactive cooking shows, art house films, enrichment classes, murder mysteries, trivia, and “Meet the Experts” presentations from the crew. Additionally, Princess Live! will serve as a more intimate performance venue for onboard musicians who will offer “unplugged” and “in-the-round” shows, providing an opportunity for entertainers to connect with the audience in a unique environment.

“Princess Live! will be an exciting new experience for passengers,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “Not only will they enjoy the high energy of being part of a live television production, but they also will have a new opportunity to see more intimate performances from many of our onboard entertainers.”

The adjacent Princess Live! Café will surround passengers with interactive, wall-mounted screens showing the ship’s position, ports of call, points of interest and even international newspapers. The café will serve up specialty coffees, teas and freshly squeezed citrus juice, plus will offer a selection of fresh-baked croissants and pastries in the morning.

Royal Princess will also feature the line’s largest Princess Theater ever, with unobstructed sight lines from every seat, plus will see the return of an updated Vista Lounge at the aft of the ship to serve as an alternate evening performance venue.

Additional information about other ship features will be released in the coming months.

The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess is a new-generation ship currently under construction. Among the new features found on board will be a greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; the dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed enclosed walkway on the ship’s starboard side extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water; a dazzling water and light show; more dining options including a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, wine cellar dining area and an expanded Horizon Court with pastry shop. Eighty percent of the ship’s staterooms will feature a balcony. More information about the ship is available at www.princess.com/royalprincess.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website.

Carnival, Princess adopt new onboard smoking policies

Image courtesy Matt Roseboom — Two of the world’s most popular cruise lines, Carnival and Princess, have modified their respective onboard smoking policies.

By Michael Coleman

Carnival and Princess, two of the world’s most popular cruise lines, have adopted new onboard smoking policies which will be rolled out in the coming months.

Citing its “ongoing commitment to keep pace with changing guest preferences’’ the 23-ship Carnival fleet, effective this week, will only permit cigarette smoking in dance clubs, designated areas within the casino and casino bar, certain sections on the open decks on all vessels and also in the jazz clubs on 13 Carnival ships.

The 13 ships include Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Victory, Carnival Spirit, Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Glory, Carnival Valor, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Freedom, and Carnival Splendor. Cigar smoking will also be permitted in the jazz clubs. On other vessels in the fleet, cigar (and cigarette) smoking will also be permitted in designated areas on deck.

Effective December 1, 2011, smoking will be prohibited in all Carnival guest staterooms. Those guests in balcony accommodations will be permitted to smoke cigarettes and cigars outside on the balcony. Spa staterooms, currently featured on Carnival Splendor, Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic, will continue to remain entirely smoke-free, including on the balconies.

The modified smoking policy is the result of recent guest surveys conducted by the company that covered a wide range of topics. The surveys indicated that nearly 90 percent of all Carnival Cruise Lines’ guests are non-smokers with less than five percent of guests opting to smoke in their staterooms.

Meanwhile, at Carnival Corporation-owned Princess Cruises, the line will prohibit smoking in cabins and on balconies across its 16-ship fleet effective January 15, 2012.

The new policy reflects changing customer preferences and the move around the globe — from North America to Europe — to further restrict areas where smoking is allowed, according to the line.

“Our consumer studies now show that smokers are a small minority of our passengers, and that the large majority of passengers value having their primary living space onboard smoke-free,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president.

Swartz added that balconies are included in the new policy because they are a hallmark feature of Princess ships, and the line believes it’s important to keep that peaceful space clear of smoke.

She added that Princess still welcomes passengers who smoke, and will continue to provide special venues around respective ships to accommodate smokers. Smoking will continue to be allowed in the Churchill’s cigar lounge, a section of the disco and casino, and a portion of the open decks.

On the web:
www.carnival.com
www.princess.com

Media darling, Grand Princess, transformed

Image courtesy Princess Cruises — Grand Princess, formerly the largest cruise ship in the world when she debuted in 1998, has just received a masterful facelift.

By Michael Coleman

A Princess cruise ship, formerly the largest cruise ship in the world, has a new distinction.

Following the most extensive drydock in Princess Cruises history, Grand Princess has emerged from a 24-day, transformational drydock.

The vessel even became a media star as the line posted daily video updates on the work in progress which attracted more than a half million views. The Grand Princess Drydock Journal captured the dramatic process with 26 video updates plus more than 300 photos of the daily progress during the effort in a Bahamian shipyard, including the removal of Skywalkers nightclub from the ship’s stern and the complete demolition and rebuilding of the atrium to create the new Piazza. Hosted by Grand Princess Cruise Director Martyn Moss, the video series delved behind the scenes with reports on all aspects of the drydock process.

The video journal also offered different perspectives on the project with interviews of key players in the revitalization, including the ship’s Captain Tony Herriott and Chief Technical Officer Gilberto Vinci, plus Senior Vice President of Technical Services John Gunner and Project Manager Steve Storey, who explained what it takes to coordinate 1,400 contractors working around the clock. The videos also shared such tidbits as the time it took to cut Skywalkers from the ship (10 hours) and the amount of new carpeting installed (about 50 square miles).

“This drydock has been a monumental effort, and we’re very proud of the teamwork by everyone involved to create this sparkling ‘new’ ship ready to start a season of Europe sailings,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “We know our passengers will appreciate the updated décor, fresh new feel, and especially all the wonderful added features.”

Now that the ship has been transformed, passengers will find a completely new Piazza atrium, several new eateries — including Alfredo’s Pizzeria and the Crown Grill — and the line’s first specialty tea lounge called Leaves. Also included in the renovation were seven new window suites; remodeled casino, boutiques and art gallery; enhancements to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa, and wedding chapel; and the addition of Crooner’s Martini Lounge. A new nightclub, The One5, replaced Skywalkers.

The drydock video journal covered nearly every area involved in the refurbishment project, including work on the underside of the ship, upholstery work, engine control room, new shore power connection, lifeboat updates, new speakers for Movies Under the Stars, mural painting, theater renovations, and a report from the executive chef who was responsible for feeding all the contractors.

Grand Princess debuted in 1998 as the then-largest cruise ship in the world. She will homeport this summer in Southampton, England, offering a series of European voyages.

Princess, one of the best-known names in cruising, operates a fleet of 16 ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities. The line carries some 1.3 million passengers each year to destinations around the globe ranging in length from seven to 107 days.

On the web: www.princess.com

Cruise lines celebrating the royal wedding at sea

Royal Caribbean is offering royal wedding packages so you can feel like a prince or princess. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

By Jackie Roseboom

Many businesses are celebrating the Royal Wedding by offering their guests a viewing party and special offerings, and the cruise industry is no exception. From small viewing areas to lavish parties, it will all be available at sea.

Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean is celebrating the upcoming British royal wedding by offering an exclusive Royal Caribbean wedding package for couples looking to tie the knot at sea.

“Royal Caribbean’s full fleet of ships around the world will broadcast the royal wedding live so that guests may join in the ceremony’s excitement,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of marketing. “Inspired by the pending royal nuptials, the Royal Wedding package and honeymoon registry offers guests the royal treatment on their special day and honeymoon cruise.”

The Royal wedding packages include an onboard symbolic wedding ceremony (due to the varying international legal restrictions). Royal Romance Wedding Coordinators will handle every detail so the couples’ special day is a truly regal experience including any legal requirements pre-departure.

Cunard

Cunard’s Royal Court Theatre is very fitting for watching Prince William marry Kate. Photo courtesy of Cunard
Guests onboard Cunard’s three ships — Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth need have no fear of missing one second of the historic union of the future King and Kate Middleton.

Queen Mary 2’s Royal Court Theatre seats over 1,000 guests, who will be able to watch events unfold in plush cinema comfort as the ship sails between New York and Southampton, on a seven-night Transatlantic Crossing (April 26 to May 2).
The Royal Court Theatres on the smaller Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria seat more than 800 passengers, and they too will be used to screen the Royal nuptials live. At the time Queen Elizabeth will be at sea heading for Southampton, and Queen Victoria will be at sea in the Mediterranean.

The day will also be one of celebration on all three Cunard ships, with that evening’s dinner featuring a commemorative menu and a champagne toast.

MSC
With the exception of MSC Sinfonia and Opera, which will not be sailing in European waters, the Royal Wedding will be broadcast in English across the MSC fleet. Bars on board will be serving a great selection of champagnes and prosecco together with a special commemorative Royal Cocktail (sparkling wine, cognac and grand marnier). Guests will be able to raise a glass – or two – to the happy couple.

NCL
The highly-anticipated event will be broadcast across Norwegian’s fleet of ships, with the exception of Norwegian Sky in the Bahamas. Guests will be able to watch the magic of the royal wedding on two-story big screens on Norwegian Pearl, Jewel, Jade, Gem and Epic, as well as in any of the line’s bars and lounges.
After the royal couple say their “I do’s,” guests can raise a toast to the newlyweds with champagne, gin and tonic or a pitcher of Pimm’s and attend street parties held in true British style, complete with music playing tribute to the Beatles. Special dining events will be held throughout the sailing including the Prince and Princess Brunch and an afternoon Royal High Tea.

Princess Cruise Line
Princess ships will be airing the Royal Wedding on the Movies Under the Stars giant screens. Passengers will be able to follow along with full coverage of the pomp and majesty of the historic wedding through BBC World’s broadcast of the event. The onboard viewing parties will add a celebratory flair to the event with British-style refreshments and special royal-themed cocktails. Passengers can also test their knowledge with royal wedding trivia competitions and participate in a William and Kate look-alike contest.

Princess Cruise Line’s first Royal Princess cruise ship debuted in 1984 and was christened by HRH Princess Diana. The ship left the fleet in 2005, the name was passed to one of Princess’ small ships in 2007. This vessel is being transferred to a sister company at the end of April. The new Royal Princess cruise ship will be debuting in spring of 2013. We’ll be waiting in anticipation to see if Princess Kate will also christen the Royal Princess, as the beloved Princess Diana did.

Note: Be sure to follow your Cruise News Weekly columnists as we report live from Carnival’s newest ship, Carnival Magic, from May 1 to 10 in Europe. We’ll be reporting from our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Princess to offer an expanded Panama Canal experience

Built specifically to sail the Panama Canal, Coral Princess offers regular round-trip sailings through this engineering marvel. She and the Island Princess will offer expanded Panama Canal sailings in the next two years. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

By Jackie Roseboom

The Panama Canal has been delighting cruisers for nearly a century. This man-made masterpiece is composed of 51 passageways between the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, saving travelers more than 7,000 transit miles around the South American continent. Princess Cruises has been going there for years on short trips in and out in a day. Now there’s an offer that will give cruisers more.

Princess has 38 cruises scheduled to this famous destination for 2011 and 2012. The Coral Princess and the Island Princess, built specifically for traveling through the Canal, have the honor of taking these journeys. Theses large ships will make their way through the massive locks, barely clearing the sides. The locks lower and raise the ships about 170 feet with an average of 52 million gallons of water per chamber. The complete trip from one side to the other takes about nine hours.

“Our ships have been transiting the Panama Canal for more than 40 years and, in fact, we even christened Coral Princess as it moved through the Canal,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “There really is no better way to watch the fascinating process as the ship transits each lock than from the decks of our ships — it’s an exceptional way to experience this wonder of engineering.”

Princess has unique offers that combine the transit of the Panama Canal one day, including the Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatun Locks, with a second day at the Fuerte Amador in Panama. This extra time will give cruisers the chance to experience some fun and unique tours in Panama. Visitors will be able to take a trip on the Panama Canal Railway, journey through the rainforest, visit the local Embera Indian village and of course go on a shopping tour.

The single most expensive construction project in United States history at the time, the “big ditch” took more than 30 years to build at a cost of about $375 million. The Canal’s lengthy history included construction efforts by two different nations and the creation of an independent Panama. In total, Canal construction involved as many as 80,000 workers and the excavation of around 268,000,000 cubic yards of earth. Today the Canal offers passage to approximately 14,000 ships a year.

One-way Panama Canal Transit Sailings include a 14- and 15-day itineraries between Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale. Besides the two-day Panama Canal transit, the cruises may also offer visits to Cabo San Lucas, San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua), Puntarenas (Costa Rica), Cartagena, Puerto Quetzal (Guatemala) and Aruba. There’s also a 15-day option from San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale.

Roundtrip Panama Canal cruises aboard the Island Princess will offer a 10-day itinerary from Ft. Lauderdale, which offers a partial Panama Canal transit to Gatun Lake, followed by a call in Colon, plus calls in the Caribbean ports of Aruba, Cartagena, Limon (Costa Rica) and Grand Cayman or Ocho Rios. This itinerary is available 20 times between Oct. 10, 2011 and April 17, 2012.

On the Web: princess.com.

Cruise Guide: Cruising offers a unique way to visit the West Coast

Cruising offers a different, more relaxed way to visit L.A. and other West Coast destinations. Photo by Matt Roseboom
Cruising offers a different, more relaxed way to visit L.A. and other West Coast destinations. Photo by Matt Roseboom

By Matt Roseboom

cruiseguideheadersmallI’ve taken a couple of trips to California, both times enjoying the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other as I drove down California’s coastline. But there’s another, more relaxing way to visit the West Coast. You guessed it, cruising the coast. Continue reading “Cruise Guide: Cruising offers a unique way to visit the West Coast”

Princess adding new Leonard Maltin movie club and channel

Princess Cruises is teaming with celebrated film critic and historian Leonard Maltin to bring passengers another new way to experience movies onboard – an exclusive Leonard Maltin Movie Club. Debuting fleetwide, the new club gives passengers the opportunity to join fellow film buffs to discuss specially selected motion pictures during their cruise. Continue reading “Princess adding new Leonard Maltin movie club and channel”

Princess offering new itineraries and ports for Europe in 2010

The iconic wonders of the ancient world, the continent’s bustling cities and the majestic beauty found along dramatic coastlines will be showcased with Princess Cruises’ just-announced 2010 Europe program. Continue reading “Princess offering new itineraries and ports for Europe in 2010”

Ruby Princess review, photos and video now available

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We’ve just updated our Ship Reviews section with a review, photo gallery and video for Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess.

The photo gallery includes more than 90 high quality pictures. The video includes a brief tour of the galley to watch the head pastry chef decorate a wedding and anniversary cake, a look at a dance party on deck, the La Piazza area, Movies Under The Stars and a quick, comical walk-through of the ship.

Click Here or to the left under Princess Cruises to get the scoop on Princess Cruises’ newest ship.