I never had the opportunity to sail on Sitmar as they were bought out before I took my first cruise (on Sky Princess in 1991). Can anyone tell me what it was like and what line it is most comparable to today?
I never cruised with Stimar, but several of their vessels still belong to Princess Cruises or sister P&O lines. Here's at least part of the list:
>> TSS Fair Princess (formerly Sitmar's TSS Fairsea) -- now operates for the Australian P&O Holidays division; rumored to be either slated for either sale or transfer to a new unit based in New Zealand
>> TSS Sky Princess (formerly Sitmar's TSS Fairsky) -- about to transfer to the Australian P&O Holidays division as TSS Pacific Sky
>> MV Arcadia (formerly MV Star Princess, on order as MV Fair Majesty at time of the acquisition) -- now operates for the British P&O Cruises division
>> MV Regal Princess and MV Crown Princess (both on order for Sitmar Cruises and apparently unnamed at the time of the acquisition) -- still operate for the North American Princess Cruises division
Although undoubtedly superior to the older MV Pacific Princess (which probably will leave the Princess fleet soon after she fulfills the present Bermuda commitment which extends through the summer of 2002), the former Sitmar vessels have consistently received poorer reviews than even flagship MV Royal Princess. Nonetheless, the Princess Cruises division continues to book passengers from North America on these vessels.
When I sailed Pacific Princess last summer some oof the crew had been with Princess before the Sitmar aquisition. They told me the following, very interesting story.
Sitmar was put up for sale because it was unionized and the pay scale was killing the line. Princess is not unionized. At the time of sale, the Sitmar officers tried to kill the deal by making passengers' cruise experience as uncomfortable as possible. They were not happy with the thought of becoming non unionized. I was on Sky Princess that summer and must say, they succeeded. It was the unhappiest crew I've ever sailed with. The British girls who were on the ship were covered with black and blue marks from being pinched, a very nasty Italian male habit which my daughter tells me no longer exists. Food was awful and was received ice cold. I never saw a smile from a cabin steward, bar waiter or dining room waiter. Restaurant owners in Alaska were ecstatic because when Sky Princess was in their town passengers poured off the ship to eat. One day we were on an elevator when it stopped. A lady in a walker approached the elevator. Just before she stepped in, one of the three former Sitmar officers in the elevator closed the door in her face. Then all three of them started to laugh. It chilled my blood. I posted this on the old AOL boards long before cruisemates existed. One of the board monitors told me that on the same ship the same year just before a Panama Canal cruise, the engineering officers leaving the ship had engineered a list in the ship that was unfixable until the ship was dry docked. The departing deck officers had stolen every copy of the Panama Canal charts. The captain was forced to go to a Holland America ship nearby to obtain copies of it. I stayed away from Princess for 12 years as a result of this cruise, formerly and again one of my favorite cruiseline. The Princess employee figured it took about 5 years for Princess to recover from the purchase of Sitmar. I never had a chance to sail it and in retrospect am glad I never did.
We still haven't completely recovered. We still have two ships of Sitmar design -- MV Crown Princess and MV Regal Princess -- in the Princess fleet, both of which score noticeably lower than even our own MV Royal Princess in published reviews. As a P&O shareholder, I can only say that 2002 (when MV Pacific Princess will complete her Bermuda commitment and MV Crown Princess will transfer out of the Princess fleet) won't come quickly enough.