Princess Cruises has announced that in 2007 it will deploy five ships throughout Europe sailing itineraries ranging in length from one week to 24 days. This announcement means that Princess will offer the widest variety of itineraries and ships in the region industry-wide, with 81 European departures on 31 different itineraries.
Two brand-new Princess vessels will actually make their debuts in Europe in 2007, as well: Emerald Princess will begin sailing Greek Isles and Grand Mediterranean voyages, and Royal Princess will offer a series of unique "elite" Mediterranean cruises, including the line's first sailings to the Holy Land in more than five years. Both are slated to debut in April.
The other three ships Princess has dedicated to European itineraries are Grand Princess (Northern Europe), Star Princess (Scandinavia and Russia) and Sea Princess (Mediterranean and trans-Atlantic cruises from Southampton). The five ships will call at 110 different ports.
Princess isn't the only cruise line ramping up its European presence. Carnival Cruise Lines, which offered a series of European cruises for the first time in 2005, returns with Carnival Liberty for another full season again this year and will assign its next newest ship -- Carnival Freedom -- to sail there in 2007. Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean is deploying a Voyager-class ship in Europe in 2006 for the first time ever, and will assign another there in 2007.
The 113,000-ton Emerald Princess is currently under construction at Italy's Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone; the 680-passenger Royal Princess is currently cruising as Swan Hellenic's Minerva II.