February 21, 2001
Princess' announcement last week that it would be shifting Ocean Princess -- the last and latest debut in the Grand "Class" -- to the UK market raises eyebrows. The move, which will take place when the cruise line takes delivery of Coral Princess in the fall of 2002, means that, for the first time in a long time, a cruise line is sending a relatively new ship (Ocean Princess launched in 2000; it's a 77,000 ton vessel carrying 1,950 passengers) into the European market. With amenities, like verandahs and alternative dining options, that are not prevalent there. Carnival's recent shifting of Tropicale, one of the fleet's older ships, to sister cruise line Costa is much more common, the explanation being that European markets don't yet demand the same amenities (verandahs, etc.) that American cruisers are, by now, accustomed to. Need we say, once again, that the cruise lines are facing the fact that the American market has too much capacity? We'd like to think that shifting such a new ship into the European market doesn't, well, smack of a desperate move to relieve the line of an excess of berths. Looking at the bright side, who knows: maybe it will spark a revolution in Europe, in which cruisers there will begin seeking out American-style liner amenities.