Sensational would seem to be a good word to describe Princess Cruises' new 100,000-ton, 2,600-passenger ship to be introduced in 1997.
But sensational does not necessarily equate premium or luxury cruising. It will be up to Princess to keep its promise that the new world's largest passenger ship ever will be both bigger and better.
In the meantime, Princess is getting all the extra attention that comes with building the first ship over 100,000 tons.
Economies of Scale
Lord Sterling, Chairman of P&O, parent company to Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises, said recently that the two were P&O's most consistently profitable divisions. P&O is clearly set to continue on that course.
While Princess President Peter Ratcliffe would not reveal how much improved economies of scale the new ship would afford, carrying more passengers on one hull is clearly more efficient than carrying fewer passengers, while burning the same amount of fuel and paying the same number of seamen. The only cost aspect that would go up would be the hotel staff.
In building costs, Princess achieves a tremendous gain in economies of scale by sheer size. While the Regal Princess was built at an approximate cost per berth of $187,500, the new ship will be built at a cost per berth of approximately $153,846.
Moreover, if marine and technical operating costs remain basically the same for the new ship as for the Regal Princess, the ship will instead have 1,000 more passengers on board paying perhaps an average of $150 per day net, that is, $150,000 more per day, or more than $1 million more per cruise. This is hypothetical, of course, but illustrates the gains to be made by building at a lower cost per berth and carrying more passengers.
"We see advantage in size. It is part of our strategy," said Ratcliffe.
Princess' new ship will not only be large, it will also be spacious. According to Ratcliffe, the new 100,000-ton ship will offer 40 percent more public space than the 70,000-ton Regal Princess which is already a spacious ship.
The ship is the larger of the two vessels announced last February. (Princess now has three vessels under construction and/or contract at Fincantieri: the 70.000-ton Sun Princess. scheduled to enter service in 1995: a sister ship, scheduled to enter service in 1996; and the 100,000-ton ship, also scheduled to enter service in 1996.)
The ship became 100,000 tons "as we finalized the design," said Ratcliffe. "We decided that a ship of 100,000 tons allows us to provide unparalleled space and amenities for the passengers."
The vessel will feature three show lounges, each giving passengers a different after-dinner entertainment option.
There will also be three different dining rooms, each serving no more than 500 passengers in two seatings. Two integrated galleys will serve the three dining rooms.
Also featured will be an entire deck of suites, 750 cabins with verandas and five swimming pools.
Among other firsts is a "virtual reality theater" which will incorporate interactive technology such as a golf driving range that will allow passengers to "play" some of the world's best known courses.
The ship will also have a retractable "magradome" enclosing the upper pool area in air conditioned comfort when the weather is inclement, and a spectacular nightclub positioned astern 15 decks above sea level accessible only by a moving, glass-enclosed walkway.
Ratcliffe added that "the ship's large passenger space ratio of 38 and its high crew to passenger complement will be key factors in providing an upscale experience for passengers in the Princess tradition."
The diesel-electric powered ship will be 935 feet long, with a beam of 118 feet and a draft of 26 feet. The cruising speed will be 22.5 knots.
The new ship will sail seven-day cruises from Fort Lauderdale year-round offering Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
Third Largest Line
At the moment, Princess is the fourth largest cruise line in the North American market. Worldwide, however, the combination of Princess and P&O Cruises, gives P&O the third largest cruise operation in the world, according to Ratcliffe.
P&O Cruises operates the Canberra and Sea Princess in the European market and the Fair Star in Australia. In 1995, a new ship, the 67.000-ton, 1.950-passenger Oriana, will join P&O's European fleet. The 1995 four-ship fleet will have a total of 5,520 berths and an estimated annual capacity of approximately 200.000 passengers.
In North America, Princess Cruises operates 10 ships with 12,550 berths and will have an estimated passenger capacity of approximately 430,000 in 1994.
In 1995 and 1996, Princess will see a 70 percent increase in its annual capacity from 430.000 to 750,000 passengers and 13 ships with 18,950 berths which will make Princess the third largest operator in North America.
The combined Princess and P&O fleets will then approach the one million passengers a year mark.
In addition, Princess also has an option for a second 100,000-ton ship.