The news that Princess Cruises has ordered two new ships for delivery in 2019 and 2020 will likely mean the departure from the fleet of several older ships.
In announcing the orders at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy, Carnival CEO Arnold Donald made reference to the line’s measured growth strategy, which includes “replacing less efficient ships with newer, larger and more efficient vessels over a very specific period of time.”
The oldest and presumably least efficient ship in the Princess stable is the 1995-built Sun Princess, now sailing in Australia. It doesn’t seem that long ago when the Sun Princess was the biggest, freshest ship in the Princess fleet.
In 1995 Princess was still predominantly a West Coast cruise line, but it was trying to raise its profile in the Caribbean. Its Sun class ships were part of that strategy.
Of course, that was before Carnival Corp. acquired Princess. The godmother of the Sun Princess, Lady Dorothy Sterling, was the wife of Lord Jeffrey Sterling, chairman of the line’s then-owner, the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company.
In fact, Princess was a competitor for several of Carnival’s brands until Carnival acquired the company in 2003.
The Sun Princess came along when cruise lines were first realizing the appeal and revenue power of balcony cabins. The ship’s 372 balcony cabins gave it a big advantage in the Caribbean when it first launched.
Today, at slightly less than 2,000 passengers, the Sun Princess carries 45% fewer passengers than the ships Carnival has ordered for the future.
The other ship that was christened at Port Everglades in the fall of 1995, Celebrity Cruises’ Century, has already left the fleet and is sailing for Celebrity’s joint venture with Ctrip in China.
By 2020, the Sun Princess will be 25 years old. I would look for a similar exit for it sometime in the next few years.