CruiseAholic & Susan,
MV Royal Princess
most assuredly will not be the next ship to leave the Princess fleet since the company has already announced the following plans (http://188.8.131.52/press_020410.htm
>> 1. MV Pacific Princess
will go to her new owners in November 2002.
>> 2. MV Ocean Princess
will go to sister line P&O Cruises, marketed primarily in the United Kingdom, in November 2002. She will be renamed MV [i] Oceana[/i[.
>> 3. MV Sea Princess
will go to sister line P&O Cruises in May 2003. She will be renamed MV Adonia
>> 4. MV Regal Princess
will go to sister line A'Rosa, marketed primarily in Germany, in the spring of 2004.
There are no announced plans to transfer or to sell MV Royal Princess
It's true that MV Royal Princess
will be twenty years old -- and by far the oldest ship in the Princess Cruises fleet -- in 2004, but it's also true that (1) she has aged gracefully and is in excellent repair, (2) she has a very loyal following and continues to command a premium over many other Princess ships (including a "cult" following related to Princess Diana, her godmother), and (3) she can enter many ports that the new ships cannot enter due to their size.
Another major factor is that Princess's best customers, Joe and Lorraine Arntz, have made this ship their real home. They spend over 200 days per year aboard her, and were on their 208th Princess cruise when I met them last summer. You simply do not alienate customers like that by transferring their favorite ship out from under them if you can help it!
A ship usually has a useful service life of thirty to forty years, with proper maintenance (which she most assuredly ahs had). So long as her operation continues to be profitable, I see no reason for the company to move her elsewhere or to sell her. In fact, there's much to lose in such a move of this unique ship.
My guess is that MV Sun Princess
and MV Dawn Princess
are likely to leave the Princess Cruises fleet before MV Royal Princess
. The parent company just negotiated an extension of options for two more sisters to MV Coral Princess
and MV Island Princess
-- an indication that the company does have some expectation of exercising those options before they expire, now scheduled for the end of this month (http://184.108.40.206/press_020801.htm
). Since options on new ships cost money, you don't extend them if you don't intend to exercise them. My guess is that the two new ships will replace MV Sun Princess
and MV Dawn Princess
in the Princess Cruises fleet, with these vessels going to sister lines (P&O Cruises and perhaps P&O Cruises Australia being the most likely recipients).
Of course, MV Royal Princess
won't last forever. She will leave the Princess Cruises fleet eventually, and it's likely that she will do so before many of the ships that are joining the fleet now.