Princess Cruises abandons summer sailings

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Worldwide coronavirus travel restrictions have forced Princess Cruises to abandon sailings for the remaining summer season.

The line, at the centre of controversy over Covid-19 outbreaks on a number of ships, has extended its pause in global operations from June 30 – the date new ship Enchanted Princess had been due to be named in Southampton.

The delivery of the new vessel was previously delayed with the Carnival Corporation brand now cancelling its five-ship programme in Europe this summer on Enchanted Princess, Regal Princess, Sky Princess, Crown Princess and Island Princess as part of the new wave of suspended sailings.

Other cruises cancelled until the end of the summer season include:

All remaining Alaska cruises on Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess

Summer Caribbean cruises and all Canada and New England cruises on Caribbean Princess and Sky Princess

Summer to autumn cruises departing from Japan on Diamond Princess

Australia-based cruises on Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess until August

July cruises sailing from Taiwan on Majestic Princess

Autumn cruises sailing to Hawaii and French Polynesia on Pacific Princess through to November

Princess originally announced a voluntary pause in operations for two months, affecting departures between March 12 and May 10. That was then extended in April through to June 30 before yesterday’s announcement.

The line made the “extremely difficult” decision to cancel select cruises through the end of the 2020 summer season due to reduced flight availability, the closure of cruise ports in regions around the world and “other factors impacting international travel”.

Princess pledged to protect travel agent commissions on bookings for cancelled cruises that were paid in full, “in recognition of the critical role they play in the cruise line’s business and success”.

Refunds are being offered but must be requested via an online form by June 15 or customers will receive refundable future cruise credits.

People who have booked and paid for the newly cancelled cruises have the option to receive a future cruise credit plus an additional bonus credit equal to 25% of the fare.

Princess will double the deposit, providing a refundable future cruise credit, for those who have not paid in full for the money currently on deposit plus a matching bonus FCC that can be used on any voyage until May 1, 2022.

The matching bonus FCC will not exceed the base cruise fare amount of the currently booked cruise and will have a minimum value of £100 per person.

President Jan Swartz said: “As the world is still preparing to resume travel, it is with much disappointment that we announce an extension of our pause of global ship operations and the cancellation of cruise holidays for our loyal guests.

“Among other disruptions, airlines have limited their flight availability and many popular cruise ports are closed.

“It saddens us to think about the impact on the livelihood of our teammates, business partners and the communities we visit.”

Fincantieri Marks Milestone Event for Trio of Princess Ships

Princess Ceremony at Fincantieri

Fincantieri and Princess Cruises today celebrated three construction milestones of three Royal-class ships, currently in different construction phases, at a ceremony at the Monfalcone shipyard.

The day began with the live broadcast of the steel cutting for the sixth and last Royal-class ship, still unnamed, at the shipyard of Castellammare di Stabia (Naples).

Princess Ceremony at Fincantieri

The section, once completed, will be transported by sea to the yard in Monfalcone, where the ship will be completed in 2022.

Later, in Monfalcone, the keel laying of Enchanted Princess, the fifth Royal-class ship, was marked, with a delivery date in 2020.

Princess Ceremony at Fincantieri

The event was attended by Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia group president, and Luigi Matarazzo, senior executive vice president of the merchant ships business unit of Fincantieri.

In addition, the Sky Princess was floated out, and will join the fleet later this year; the Madrina of this ceremony was Kerry Ann Wright, a second officer with Princess.

In addition, Fincantieri will build two next-generation 4,300-guest ships for Princess Cruises with delivery dates in 2023 and 2025. The ships will be 175,000 tons each.

Princess Cruises unveils biggest ever ex-UK and Europe deployment

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Princess Cruises is to operate its biggest season ever sailing out of the UK and Europe for 2020 – and will name new ship Enchanted Princess in Southampton.

Ex-UK capacity for 2020 will be 30% more than in 2019, with three ships sailing a full season out of Southampton for the first time. It amounts to 1.4 million cruise nights on board.

The 3,080-passenger Crown Princess will sail for more than 150 days out of Southampton between May and November to the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and northern Europe; 2,200-passenger Island Princess will spend June to October sailing from Southampton to northern Europe; and 3,560-passenger Regal Princess will sail out of the UK’s largest cruise port from May to September.

Princess’ European capacity will also increase in 2020 by 15% in 2019, the line revealed last night.

Sky Princess, which launches next year and will carry 3,660 passengers, will spend its first spring and summer season sailing Scandinavia and Russia roundtrip from Copenhagen.

The line’s newest ship Enchanted Princess will hold its naming ceremony in Southampton in late June 2020 and will be the first Princess Cruises vessel to be named in the UK since Royal Princess in 2013. It will sail out of the Mediterranean after its naming ceremony.

Wednesday night’s event was the launch of Princess Cruises’ 2020 programme, which also includes sailings across Asia, the Caribbean, Alaska and Canada & New England. The UK-based ships, Crown Princess and Island Princess, will go on sale 9am on Thursday, November 8, with the rest of Europe, Caribbean and Canada & New England sailings available for agents to sell from 5pm the same day. Alaska and Japan voyages are on sale from Thursday, November 15, at 5pm.

Tony Roberts, vice president Princess Cruises UK and Europe, said: “We have seen great demand for sailings from the UK and it continues to be really strong. We have great support from the trade.

Roberts told Travel Weekly that the ex-UK programme was “bread and butter” for UK agents and that a four-night sampler cruise to Rotterdam and the Channel Islands onboard Crown Princess could help them encourage new-to-cruise customers.

“Once they cruise they want to cruise again,” he said. “Asia has grown largely from people who love cruising and want to go to new destinations in different parts of the world.”

Roberts, who said the UK accounted for around 5%-10% of Princess Cruises’ market, also praised the “successful” introduction of the line’s wearable Ocean Medallion technology, which last month was worn by 100% of guests on board Caribbean Princess – the first time every passenger on a ship has been able to use the technology at once.

Roberts could not reveal dates of when other ships would follow suit but confirmed that the line’s plan is to make the technology available fleet-wide.