Full Ships From Day One

Stanley McDonaldWhen Stanley McDonald, who founded Princess Cruises in 1965, last spoke with Cruise Industry News, he was upbeat on the industry. “We saw the growth potential already back then,” he said. “We started with a 400-passenger ship, moved up to 600 and then 900 and still sailed full.” He said word-of-mouth was the best advertising he ever had. “People were so satisfied after cruising with us that they came back. And they told their friends.”

In addition, The Love Boat television series helped give Princess an identity in the cruise market. In fact, The Love Boat helped the entire industry, according to McDonald. “The series created awareness about cruising as a fun and enjoyable vacation.”

McDonald’s interest in cruising stemmed from a successful charter to the World’s Fair in Seattle in 1962. Seattle was short of hotel rooms and he chartered a ship and organized a 10-day roundtrip cruise from San Francisco.

He launched Princess with a ship chartered from the Canadian Pacific Railroad, which he refurbished and ran two winter seasons from Los Angeles to Mexico. The name of the ship was Princess Patricia, and McDonald liked it so much he named his cruise line Princess Cruises.

Three years later he sold Princess to Boise Cascade only to buy it back when that company ran into financial difficulties. In 1975, he sold Princess again, this time to P&O, but stayed on until 1980.

Another cruise venture followed, Sundance Cruises, which was designed to allow passengers to bring their cars to Alaska in the summer and Mexico in the winter. Sundance was later merged with Eastern and Western Steamship Lines, which eventually became Admiral Cruises, a short-lived division of Royal Caribbean. That was in the late 1980s, when McDonald cashed in. (From Cruise Industry News Winter 1999/2000.)

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This article ran as part of a special Legends and Leaders section of the 100th edition of Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine, Spring 2015. A PDF download is available here.

Related articles:

Knut Kloster: A Man of Vision

Ted Arison: Creating the Fun Ships

Micky Arison: Exceeding Expectations

Nicola Costa: Developing Europe

Ed Stephen: Great Future

Arne Wilhelmsen: Next: Sensible Growth

John Chandris: Innovation is Key

Phoenix: True North

Art Rodney: Launching New Brands

Helge Naarstad: The Ultimate Experience 

Stanley McDonald: Full Ships from Day One

Barney Ebsworth: It's All About Marketing

Lord Sterling: Worldwide Outlook

Stein Kruse: Global Expansion

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