Seabourn And Windstar Finally Return To Alaska – Celebrity Cruises Changes UK Ship – Trouble At Falmouth?

The Cruise Examiner for 10th July 2017

Canadian Pacific's Princess Charlotte at Alert Bay 1930s

Seabourn is reviving the port of Alert Bay, where Canadian Pacific’s Princess Charlotte is seen. She later became Swan Hellenic’s Mediterranean

Seabourn’s first Alaska departure in fifteen years left Vancouver last month when the Seabourn Sojourn sailed north to Seward and went on during her return voyage to add calls at Prince Rupert, Klemtu and Alert Bay in northern British Columbia that will make her itineraries unique. And next year, Windstar Cruises will return to Alaska after an absence of twenty years. In their case they will use the Star Legend, which sailed for many years as Seabourn Legend. In the UK, Celebrity Cruises will be changing from the Celebrity Eclipse to the Celebrity Silhouette in 2018. And trouble seems to be brewing in Falmouth, Jamaica, the six-year-old mega-ship port that was opened by Royal Caribbean in 2011, after complaints from passengers about surly welcomes to Jamaica.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                     (See previous columns)

Canadian Pacific’s Princess Patricia To Be Commemorated on Princess Cruises’ 50th Anniversary Cruise This December

Princess Patricia painting

The 6,062-ton Canadian-flag Princess Patricia was the origin of the name of Princess Cruises.

In the winters of 1965-66 and 1966-67, Canadian Pacific’s 347-berth Princess Patricia ran a number of Mexican Riviers cruises on charter to the newly-formed Princess Cruises, sailing from Los Angeles. To celebrate the line’s 50th anniversary later this year, Princess Cruises has scheduled the 680-berth Pacific Princess for a special Mexican Riviera itinerary departing Los Angeles on December 3, 2015. The Pacific Princess will sail fifty years to the day after the Princess Patricia departed on the line’s first cruise in 1965.

The Princess Patricia normally operated her in Canadian Pacific’s Alaska cruise trade by summer and was laid her up in Victoria each winter. But the original use of the name Princess Cruises actually dated back to its colloquial use in Canadian Pacific Alasks brochures as early as the 1930s.

The Pacific Princess, now the smallest ship in the Princess fleet, will operate a 14-night cruise of the same duration as that first cruise on Princess Patricia. It will include a blend of ports from the maiden itinerary, including Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Manzanillo, and add some newer destinations such as La Paz and Loreto.

Princess Patricia‘s success in this trade allowed Princess Cruises to move on to larger ships and to expand into the Alaska trade as well. The fledgling cruise line was then acquired by Britain’s P&O in 1974.

Pacific Princess at Skagway

The Pacific Princess at Skagway in 2014

The 50th anniversary cruise has been on sale with fares starting at $1,699 per person, double occupancy. By way of comparison, fares on the 1965 Princess Patricia cruises began at $430. While that fare may seem high for 1965, they were less per day than her 8-night Alaska summer cruises, which started at $275. And taking into account inflation, $430 would be worth $3,204 today, meaning that in real terms the cost of a 14-night Mexican Riviera cruise has dropped by almost half in fifty years.

Now one of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises’ first season offered ten cruises to Mexico between December 3 and April 8 accommodating about 3,200 cruisers. Nearly fifty years later, Princess is the third largest cruise line in the world, with seventeen ships carrying 1.7 million cruisers to destinations worldwide.

For bookings and details of these and any other special cruises please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruisepeopleltd@aol.com. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

To Alaska With The Pacific Princess – Top Marks For Crystal Symphony – Mein Schiff 3 On Maiden Voyage

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 16th June 2014..

Mein Schiff 3

This week, two interesting cruise reviews have arrived on our desk, one for the Pacific Princess, which is this summer offering 7-night round voyages from Vancouver to Alaska, the first time Princess has offered this itinerary in a decade, and the second on a coastal segment of Crystal Symphony’s Transatlantic voyage from New York earlier this month. For a change, and as they are both recent and topical, we thought readers might enjoy reading them. Finally, we bring news of the maiden voyage for TUI Cruises’ new Mein Schiff 3, delivered in late May by STX Finland.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                        (See previous columns)

 

Weekly Sailings From Vancouver To Alaska With The Pacific Princess

Pacific Princess at SkagwayOne of our good clients has sent us this review of their late May Alaska cruise on board Princess Cruises’ 30,277-ton Pacific Princess (left):
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If you’re going to sail from Vancouver on an Alaska cruise then by all means stay at the Rosewood Georgia Hotel before sailing. This art deco hotel, completed in 1927, has a complimentary classic Bentley limousine that can deliver you in great style to Canada Place to catch your ship.
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Because the Pacific Princess carries only 680 passengers, the boarding process is more relaxed than for one of those behemoths with between 2,000 and 4,000 passengers. There are eight of this smaller class of ship in service, all having been built between 1999 and 2001 for the defunct Renaissance Cruises. Three operate for Oceania Cruises, two for Azamara Club Cruises, one for P&O Cruises and two, the Pacific Princess and the Ocean Princess, for Princess. Having travelled on sister ships with three other lines, we quickly found our way to our balcony stateroom. What better way to see Alaska than this, on a small ship with no crowds and a private balcony for whale watching?
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The standard balcony cabins are slightly short on space at 173 square feet (216 including the balcony) compared to some other ships, but quite suitable for a 7-night cruise. The closets feature real wooden coat hangers but this class of ship has never overcome the colliding doors of its closets and the en suite shower directly opposite. Princess’s bathrobes, meanwhile, leave a little to be desired, all seeming to have shrunk from too much washing. They could hardly stretch around a standard-sized person, let alone someone who might be fond of eating. The balconies on the Princess ships are finished in blue plastic marine decking rather than the teak found on Oceania.
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But other than such small quibbles, this is a great little ship and the service is enthusiastic. Getting to know the crew later, we found that the Pacific Princess’s officers are mostly Italian and the crew International. Assigned to the same table for dinner each evening, we got to know our fellow passengers, but also our waiter and station captain who thrived on coming up with special requests such as the Indonesian hot chili sauce Sambal Oelek we requested to go with our lobster the next night. Duly consulting the Indonesian sous-chef, they came up with a gravy boat full of this specialty sauce that our whole table enjoyed. I doubt we would have got the same service on the larger ships in the Princess fleet.
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Pacific Princess Club-Like Interiors
Pacific Princess’s public areas have been well maintained and live up to their original reputation as country houses at sea (left), the grand staircase still being at the centre of the ship. There is a modest cabaret lounge for this number of passengers, a great view forward from the Pacific Lounge atop the ship, main dining room in the stern and two alternative restaurants above, as well as the buffet restaurant on the pool deck that features an open air area overlooking the stern, not to mention the very classy library at the top of the main stairwell overlooking the pool from its aft perch. And on the main passenger deck, in addition to the photo gallery and two shops, there is a casino with its attached but separate Casino Bar with nightly entertainment as well as the Club Bar next to the main restaurant.
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Once aboard, there is quite a lot of pressure to buy a wine package as well as a ticket for the next day’s wine tasting session, but there is no drinks package on Princess’s two small ships. Nevertheless, compared to some other lines it is possible to get a drink for between $5.75 and $7.50 plus 15% gratuity, and a bottle of Chianti for $30 (plus 15%) for dinner. The drinks bill for two for our cruise was $305 and the wine package $185 for 7 nights, totalling $490, or $35 per person per day including gratuities. By comparison, the drinks package on Oceania Cruises runs to $50 per person per day.
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More quibbles: Internet on Pacific Princess ran to $204 for a week for their most extensive package. The extra tariff restaurants now charge $25 per person. The public washrooms could use more frequent service. And the music could be updated by three decades from 1950s-70s to 1980s-2000s.
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Overall, however, with the passengers she attracts, the Pacific Princess is a pleasing ship. The crew is solicitous and friendly and, with no crowds, the passengers are interesting and not loud. Many had actually booked this cruise because they had tired of larger ships. Canadians (182 passengers or 27.8% of the ship) formed the largest group on board and Americans (157 and 24%) came second, while there were many Brits (113 and 17.3%) and Australians (117 and 17.9%), making it a sort of Commonwealth at sea. The Americans were mostly Californians and Midwesterners plus some Texans and there were also 85 (13.0%) of other nationalities (of which there were 29) with quite a few Chinese. Total passengers: 654.
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White Pass steam train on Skagway dock
The ports of call on our cruise were Juneau, Skagway, cruising Glacier Bay and Ketchikan. While there are plenty of helicopter, float plane and glacier tours available, by far the most interesting for us was the White Pass & Yukon Route narrow gauge railway excursion (left at Skagway, dockside), which runs from Skagway through the White Pass into Canada before returning to Alaska. Built at the time of the Klondike gold rush, the railway reopened in 1988 as a seasonal tourist attraction and now serves about 370,000 passengers a year between May and September.
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The White Pass, which operates on the first 67½ miles (Skagway to Carcross, Yukon) of the original 110-mile line to Whitehorse, is today Alaska’s most popular shore excursion. The line rises 2,865 feet in 26 miles of steep grades and cliff-hanging curves on the way up from Skagway to the summit and passengers experience a breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and maybe even the odd bear. All this while riding in the comfort of vintage parlour cars equipped with open platforms at each end.
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The White Pass rail fleet includes twenty diesel-electric locomotives, seventy open-deck parlour cars and two steam locomotives. The steam train excursion takes four hours and when purchased ashore costs $159, the diesel-electric ones three to three-and-a-half hours and $119. Trains come right alongside the ship at Skagway docks.
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Aside from the White Pass, there was Glacier Bay and its many different glaciers, Orcas and humpback whales aplenty and seals and eagles, and in Ketchikan, Annabelle’s on Front Street cannot be missed for its fine seafood chowder! Among the four ports and points of interest this makes for an excellent cruise with lots of variety (apart from the ubiquitous jewellery shops at all the ports of call). And the air is very fresh.
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On our return to Vancouver we were followed into port by sister ship Regatta, one of the three of this class of ship owned by Oceania, which after disembarking her San Francisco passengers moved over to Seaspan’s Vancouver Drydock Co Ltd for an 11-day upgrading to bring her to the same standards as that line’s newer ships, the 1,250-berth Riviera and Marina. Nautica and Insignia have undergone the same refit.
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The Pacific Princess offers eighteen 7-night cruises from Vancouver to Alaska this summer, every Tuesday until September 9, the first time Princess Cruises has offered round trip Vancouver-Alaska sailings for about a decade. On September 16, she sails for Hawaii on her way to the South Pacific. Oceania Cruises’ Regatta offers six 7- to 10-night Alaska cruises from Seattle, one 10-night Alaska cruise from Seattle to Vancouver, one 9-night Alaska round trip from Vancouver and a 10-night Alaska cruise from Vancouver finishing in San Francisco.

For futher details or bookings please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk or in North America 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Princess 50th Anniversary Cruise On Pacific Princess – Princess Pair Reflagged to UK – Adventure Canada Takes On Larger Ship In 2015

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 5th May 2014..

Princess Patricia

Canadian Pacific’s 6,062-ton t.e.v. Princess Patricia performed Princess Cruises’ first cruise, from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera, on December 3, 1965.

Pacific Princess

Princess Cruises’ 30,277-ton Pacific Princess will perform the line’s 50th Anniversary cruise, from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera, on December 3, 2015.

Last week Princess Cruises announced that it was scheduling the Pacific Princess (above) for a 14-night 50th Anniversary cruise from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera on December 3, 2015, fifty years to the day after the chartered Princess Patricia (top) departed on her first voyage for the new line. In other news, last month Princess transferred its Japanese-built Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess to UK flag, where along with three Australian-based P&O ships, they join a very small circle of five UK-flag ships in the Carnival fleet out of the thirty operated by Princess (17), P&O (10) and Cunard (3). Meanwhile, Adventure Canada will up its capacity by two-thirds next year with the charter of the larger Ocean Endeavour to replace Sea Adventurer in 2015.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                           (See previous columns)

Small Ship Savings in Alaska, BC, the Columbia River, Hawaii and the Sea of Cortès with Un-Cruise Adventures’ US Coastal Ships

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For further details please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Vancouver To Regain Its Lead Over Seattle? – Explorer of the Seas To Australia – Bermuda Forecasts 21,000 More Cruisers This Year

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 14th April 2014..

Zuiderdam Lion's Gate

As the Alaska trade prepares for its first sailings later this month, our main subject this week is the ongoing contest between Vancouver and Seattle. Since coming out of nowhere almost fifteen years ago to capture more than half the Alaska cruise trade in just a few years, an equilibrium seems to have been reached whereby Vancouver will see almost 40% more sailings than Seattle but the average passenger turnaround per ship on Seattle sailings will be more than a third higher than Vancouver’s. Elsewhere, the news has finally broken that after her 2015 season in the UK, Explorer of the Seas will join Voyager of the Seas to become one of “Australia’s two mega liners” during the southern hemisphere cruising season. And as the Bermuda season opens, it forecasts 356,000 cruisers this year, a rise of 21,000 over 2013.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                            (See previous columns)