|Princess, which has a relatively unprecedented three ship debut schedule in 2004, has announced that Sapphire Princess, the last to arrive will be delayed. The ship, whose original inaugural date was May 16, will now launch June 13. Cancelled sailings, beyond the premiere cruise, include May 23 and 30 and June 6. Princess says passengers will be re-booked on Sapphire Princess’ sister ship – Diamond Princess – which is sailing the exact same itinerary. |
Both of the 113,000-ton, 2,670-passenger ships, which launch within months of each other next spring/summer, will offer seven night Inside Passage (Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Victoria) voyages from their seasonal home port in Seattle.
Sapphire Princess, originally known as Diamond Princess, had been slated to be the first ship launched in this new biggest-for-Princess class of vessels. However, while under construction at its Japan shipyard in autumn 2002, a fire broke out. Princess then swapped the "old" Diamond Princess with the "old" Sapphire Princess.
The company maintains quite firmly (while making no reference whatsoever to the onboard fire) that the delivery delay has nothing to do with a problem at the yard but was simply a result of an overambitious attempt to make an early launch for Sapphire Princess.