|Princess Cruises, which announced earlier this year that Regal Princess would be transferred out of the fleet before changing its mind and saying that it would stay, has once again changed its mind. The 70,000-ton, 1,590-passenger Regal Princess, which debuted in 1991, will be headed to P&O Cruises Australia but will not be leaving until it completes already announced 2007 itineraries for Princess.|
The name has not yet been decided, says Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises' senior vice president for customer service and sales. The yet-to be-renamed vessel will join a fleet that includes Pacific Sun and Pacific Star.
P&O Cruises Australia, a sister company, has other fleet-related news to impart. In the announcement that actually spurred the latest reassignment of Regal Princess, its Pacific Sky -- the last remaining steamship in the Carnival Corporation fleet of cruise lines -- will be sold to the Spain-based Pullmantur. Pacific Sky will be pulled out of service on May 6, 2006.
Trouble is, that's right in the middle of the ship's already-announced Asian season (which runs from February - November), cruises which were marketed to North Americans as well as Australians. Passengers will be contacted and refunds offered; there is no compatible cruise replacement at that time, however.
Swartz, in an interview with Cruise Critic, pre-emptively anticipated -- and then answered -- our own question about whether Princess is actively transitioning to a fleet that is comprised solely of big ships. "Princess is absolutely committed to continuing to serve our passengers who appreciate the small ship experience by offering fantastic itineraries on Pacific Princess and Tahitian Princess," Swartz says firmly.
And so that would appear to put to rest the rumors, running rampant through the cruise industry, that Oceania Cruises is this-close to signing a deal to purchase Pacific Princess. It, along with the identical 30,277-ton, 680-passenger Tahitian Princess, were formerly part of Renaissance Cruises R-series. Oceania is currently operating three of the former cruise line's eight vessels and is said to have its eye on more.