P&O Princess Cruises Plc. (LSE: POC; ADR - NYSE: POC) has issued a press release announcing future plans for all of the company's cruise lines, including the Princess Cruises unit here in the States. There's a table at the end of the release summarizing all arrivals and departures. Here are a few highlights.
>> As previously announced, MV Pacific Princess has been sold, and will go to her new owner in November 2002 with no replacement.
>> As previously announced, MV Ocean Princess will move to sister line P&O Cruises (as MV Oceana) in October 2002, replaced by the new MV Coral Princess (1970 passengers) in November 2002.
>> MV Sea Princess, a sister to MV Ocean Princess will follow in the spring of next year, replaced by the new MV Island Princess (1970 passengers, a sister to the new MV Coral Princess.
>> As previously announced, MV Crown Princess and MV Regal Princess will transfer to new sister line A'Rosa, marketed in Germany, in June 2002 and in the spring of 2004 respectively.
>> As previously announced, the new MV Diamond Princess and sister MV Sapphire Princess (2600 passengers each) will join the fleet in the spring of 2003 and in the spring of 2004, respectively.
>> Another originally ordered for the P&O Cruises division will instead join the Princess Cruises fleet as the new MV Crown Princess upon delivery in the spring of 2004. The new MV Crown Princess will carry 3100 passengers (based upon double occupancy).
After hearing the staff aboard several Princess ships refer to MV Coral Princess and MV Island Princess as "the baby grands," I was somewhat concerned that the flaws in the layout of MV Grand Princess had been replicated on these ships. Fortunately, the published deck plans for MV Coral Princess thankfully appear to have avoided many of these mistakes. I'm looking forward to my first cruise aboard these new vessels! The company has options for two more sisters to MV Coral Princess and MV Island Princess that expire this June.
I have not found it on the 'net yet, but it's in Princess's "Panama Canal 2002-2003" brochure. You should be able to obtain a copy from your travel agent, or you can order the brochure directly from Princess (1-800-PRINCESS).
MV Coral Princess is scheduled to operate the "Round Trip Panama Canal" itinerary out of Fort Lauderdale for her inaugural (winter 2002-spring 2003) season. I suspect that she will go to Alaska for the summer 2003 season, but Princess has not announced this as yet.
There were a bunch of petty annoyances. Here are the examples that come to mind.
>> If you are trying to walk laps on the Promenade Deck, you have to go up three flights of stairs as you approach the bow, around a catwalk, and down three flights on the other side. Many walkers complain that they lose their stride going up and down the stairs.
>> The Wheelhouse Bar is far too small for the size of the vessel. It was often impossible to find a seat there.
>> The aft (Botticelli on MV Grand Princess) dining room has no "gathering space" outside. Passengers waiting for the doors to open for dinner fill the stair/elevator lobby and back up on the stairways.
>> The aft (Botticelli on MV Grand Princess) dining room is right next to the stage elevator for the Vista Show Lounge. Whenever they raise or lower the stage, there's an annoying buzz and vibration in the dining room.
>> The overhead in the Vista Show Lounge is too low, such that it feels like the show lights hanging from it will block your line of sight. They really don't, but they are too close for comfort. The low overhead also feels claustrophobic even for those who normally don't have a problem with claustrophobia.
>> Many spaces on the vessel are far too small for its size. There is no single space that's big enough for an "all passengers" event. The atrium lobby is not even big enough for the traditional Captain's "Welcome Aboard" Cocktail Party on the first formal night -- which is why the line had to abolish it.
>> The open stairways wind through the atrium in a way that obstructs lines of sight and makes the lounges on either side feel claustrophobic.
>> Spaces that should be quiet spaces, such as the Writing Room and the Card and Game Room, are within the atrium -- a major activity area -- and thus not as quiet as they should be.
>> The Painted Desert, the southwestern restaurant, is right in the starboard passageway running aft from the Princess Theater. When the shows end, there's a long parade of passengers right past most of the tables.
>> The Horizon Court is split into four separate areas -- two starboard and two port -- with no interconnection from side to side. It is not a good place to meet others.
>> The surcharges at the "sucker" restaurants -- Sabatini's and The Painted Desert -- are an outrage. The main dining rooms are advertised to be the equivalent of five-star restaurants, so what could possibly be superior to justify the price?
>> The main pool area is not large enough for topside activities because it's broken in half by the solarium.
>> The lap pool is in a weird location. It's accessible either through the spa or from the jogging track.
>> The disco is in a location that's so far out of the way in the evening that very few people seem to find it. There are not many people who find it during the day, either, even though it's supposed to be an observation lounge.
>> The outdoor area on the upper level of the children's center and the teens' center has so much crosswind that they can't use it for anything except the teen hot tub, at least according to one youth counsellor.
Again, this is just what comes to mind right now. I'm probably missing a few points here and there.
Princess has attempted to fix some of these problems on the newer sisters, but could not fix all of them. If you look in the brochures, you will notice that there are separate deck plans for MV Grand Princess and MV Golden Princess due to the changes. The changes on MV Star Princess are even more extensive, but you will need a different brochure to compare them.