Get Cruising!

Wednesday 30 September 2015

A short history of Princess Cruises

Canadian Pacific’s 6,026-ton Princess Patricia (above), when
chartered to Princess Cruises in 1965, gave her name to a new cruise line.
by Alex Naughton

Princess Cruises:

From its modest beginnings in 1965 with a single ship cruising to Mexico, Princess Cruises has grown to become one of the premiere cruise lines in the world. Today, its fleet carries more than a million passengers each year to more worldwide destinations than any other major line.

The most recognized cruise line in the world was catapulted to stardom in 1977 when Pacific Princess was cast in a starring role on a new television show called The Love Boat. The weekly series, which introduced millions of viewers to the still-new concept of a sea-going vacation, was an instant hit and both the company name and its "seawitch" logo have remained synonymous with cruising ever since.

Princess Cruises' modern fleet has grown considerably in recent years to include Caribbean Princess (2004), Coral Princess (2003), Dawn Princess (1997), Diamond Princess (2004), Island Princess (2003), Pacific Princess (1999), Regal Princess (1991), Royal Princess (1984), Golden Princess (2001), Grand Princess (1998), Sapphire Princess (2004), Star Princess (2002), Sun Princess (1995) and Tahitian Princess (1999). Two additional new ships will join Princess Cruises' fleet by 2007, making it one of the most modern fleets on the high seas.

Personal Choice Cruising:

Building on past success, Princess Cruises is continually evolving to meet the needs of the today's cruise passenger. In the mid-1990s the company pioneered the concept of putting passengers in control of their own cruise experience with the introduction of its Sun-class ships. These revolutionary vessels gave passengers the freedom to choose from a wide range of flexible onboard facilities, amenities and services in order to create a personal vacation experience that takes the regimentation out of the cruise experience and suits each passenger's own needs and preferences.

Today, the line's signature emphasis on Personal Choice Cruising is apparent across the fleet, with each vessel offering its own unique version on a host of multiple dining options and locations; flexible and varied entertainment selections; renowned customer service; and a full complement of onboard activities including a variety of ScholarShip@Sea enrichment classes featuring computer training, ceramics, culinary arts, finance and photography. Often copied but never duplicated, the Princess concept of cruise holiday customisation has since been adopted as the touchstone of new ship design for the entire cruise industry.

Affordable Luxury and an Abundance of Balconies:

In addition to incorporating a wide range of choices, vessels in the Princess Cruises fleet are specifically designed to provide the ultimate in affordable luxury, with an emphasis on "big ship choice with small ship feel." No matter the size of the ship, public spaces are designed to feel intimate and are decorated in a contemporary style, allowing passengers to enjoy themselves in an informal, relaxed onboard atmosphere that mirrors today's lifestyles. The company has also long been the leader in building ships specifically designed to accommodate an extensive number of the most sought-after shipboard luxury -- the private balcony. In the mid-1980s Princess pioneered the concept of the affordable veranda, once an exclusive feature incorporated in only the most expensive suites. Today, the Princess Cruises' fleet offers one of the highest percentages of balcony cabins in the industry, across all cabin categories. The physical design and décor of the ships, coupled with Princess Cruises' hallmark service excellence, creates an onboard atmosphere of relaxed luxury in which passengers can enjoy their perfect holiday experience.

Regal Princess, a Royal Class cruise ship, is the latest development from Princess Cruises

Worldwide Destinations:

Princess Cruises' philosophy of choice is also reflected in its sailing schedule. Offering voyages to more worldwide cruise destinations than any other major line, Princess Cruises has more than 150 itineraries ranging from seven to 72 days. The line sails to all seven continents and calls at nearly 260 ports around the world. Princess Cruises passengers can enhance their cruise experience through the Adventures Ashore program featuring more than 1,500 in-port excursions worldwide, and the company's expanding cruise tour offerings enable passengers to combine their cruise with a full land tour. Destinations on all seven continents include the Caribbean, Alaska, Panama Canal, Europe, Mexican Riviera, South America, Australia/New Zealand, South Pacific, Hawaii, Tahiti/French Polynesia, Asia, India, Africa, Holy Land, Canada/New England and Antarctica.

Having led the way in Gulf of Alaska cruising, Princess Cruises maintains a strong presence in Alaska. Through its Seattle-based Princess Tours division, the company operates a wide variety of spectacular land and sea experiences in the majestic "Land of the Midnight Sun." The largest cruise and tour operator in the state, Princess Cruises operates six cruise ships, five riverside wilderness lodges, luxury Midnight Sun Express Ultra Dome rail cars, and a fleet of deluxe motor coaches; allowing cruise passengers to connect seamlessly to a landside tour and experience several distinctly unique facets of the Alaska wilderness in a single trip.

Princess Cruises is part of Carnival Corporation & PLC, one of the largest cruise holiday companies in the world.

History of The Sitmar Line

(Societa Italiana Trasporti Marittimi)

The Sitmar Line (Sitmar = Società Italiana Trasporti Marittimi) was formed by Russian émigré Alexandre Vlasov. Sitmar ships all carried a "V" for Vlasov on their funnels. Vlasov operated cargo ships under various flags (including Greek, Italian and British) before and during the war. After the war, numerous American wartime standard ships were available for purchase, and Vlasov bought the Wooster Victory and Vassar Victory. These were suitable for emigrant carriers since both had been troopships in the war. He chartered them to the IRO (International Refugee Organisation - run by the UN). The Vassar Victory was renamed Castelbianco, under the Italian flag, whereas Wooster Victory initially operated under her original name, before becoming the Castelverde when she also became Italian flagged. By 1952, the IRO charters were coming to an end, and Castel Bianco and Castel Verde (as their names were later rendered), were put into service as emigrant carriers between Genoa and Central America. Before starting this service, both ships were substantially rebuilt. Sitmar withdrew the Central American service in 1957, and the two ships were sold to the Spanish Line.

Official postcard of Fairsea
Vlasov also bought two American C3 ships, and rebuilt one as the 1800 passenger Fairsea. She was Panamanian-flagged, and initiated the naming style for future Sitmar ships. Fairsea initially operated IRO charters, and was then put on the Australian run. She also made a few North Atlantic crossings. In 1955, Fairsea was given a long-term contract by Australia to carry emigrants from Southampton. The other C3 ship became the Fairsky in 1957, under the Liberian flag, and also joining the Australian service. Also joining the Australian service were the Castel Felice, originally the BI Line's Kenya, and Fairstar, previously the Bibby Line troopship Oxfordshire. These four ships maintained this service until 1970, when the contract passed to Chandris Lines.

Official Fairsky postcard
An attempt to regain the Australian contract was made when Vlasov acquired the Cunarders Carinthia and Sylvania in 1968. The plans came to nothing, and they remained laid up at Southampton for a number of years as the Fairland and Fairsea. The loss of their regular contracts forced Sitmar to change direction, and they devoted their activities towards becoming a major cruise company. Fairsea had already been scrapped in 1969, following a fire in the engine room, and Castel Felice was scrapped in 1970 at the end of the Australian contract. The ex-Cunarders Fairland and Fairsea received substantial conversions into cruise ships. Although an appropriate name for an emigrant liner, Fairland was deemed unsuitable for a cruise ship, and she was renamed Fairwind before entering service in 1971.

Fairstar sails out of Sydney for the final time in 1997
These two fine conversions joined the Fairsky and Fairstar in building an excellent reputation for Sitmar as a cruise line in the American market. The Fairsky was sold for scrap in 1977. A third large ship was sought to replace her, initial interest in the Queen Anna Maria being thwarted when she was bought by Carnival. Finally, the Portuguese liner Principe Perfeito was bought to replace her in 1979, being renamed Fairsky. She was due to be converted in a Spanish yard, for completion in 1981, but it was eventually decided that the project was uneconomic, and she was sold to John Latsis in 1982. In her place, the new Fairsky was delivered in 1984. In 1989 Sitmar Cruises was purchased by P&O Princess PLC and merged with Princess Cruises.

Cruise deals for Australians - Cruise Critic

Thursday 24 September 2015

Go On, Play A Round on SeaDream


GOLF buffs need not fear they'll miss out on their weekly round or two when deciding on a getaway aboard boutique mega motor-cruisers SeaDream I or SeaDream II in the Mediterranean in 2016 – over a dozen sailings from May to October will include the chance to play some of the most famous courses in a broad sweep of ports along the coasts of Italy, France, Monaco, Spain and Portugal.

Opportunities include having a game or more pre or post embarking SeaDream I or II for seven or eight night Mediterranean voyages, and in some ports there's even a choice of different courses to play.

Some sailings include the possibility to play golf in a different port every day, and on others on select days; SeaDream Yacht Club arranges guest's tee times, round-trip transfers from vessel to courses, shared golf carts, and will assist with organising rental of any other equipment needed… and for those who want to get even more from their sailing, both yachts have free 36 international course golf simulators.

The cost of golf outings is additional to SeaDream's voyage prices that begin from US$4626pp twin share for 7-days including drinks from the open bars, wines with lunch and dinner, power and sail water-sports in ports where permitted, onboard gratuities, and Government charges and taxes.

And while SeaDream I and II are rated the world's finest boutique passenger vessels carrying a maximum of just 112 guests served by 95 crew, there's no call for formal wear – with smart casual being the norm at dinner.

For full details see travel agents or visit