The line has announced that the newest additions to its fleet -- the 113,000-ton, 3,100-passenger Emerald Princess and 30,000-ton, 710-passenger Royal Princess -- will be christened together on May 12, 2007. The festivities will take place in Santorini, Greece.
This will mark a historic first for Princess, but not for the industry: NCL christened Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Star in Miami back in November 2001 (check it out in our news archive). And if Santorini as a location for a christening doesn't ring a bell, that's because it shouldn't. Emerald and Royal will be the first cruise ships industry-wide to be christened on the Greek isle.
On the surface, Emerald Princess and Royal Princess couldn't be more different. Emerald is a new-build in the final stages of construction, a sister ship to the new Crown Princess and one of the largest ships in the fleet. Meanwhile, Royal will be one of Princess' smallest, and isn't "new" at all -- it is completing a final term as Swan Hellenic's Minerva II; after a dry-dock makeover, Royal will sail alongside sister ships Tahitian Princess and Pacific Princess (all three ships were originally R class ships built for Renaissance Cruises).
However, both will feature Princess hallmarks including a piazza-style atrium and the Sanctuary, an adults-only retreat (Emerald); and new dining and entertainment choices, plus cabins with private balconies (Royal).
Emerald Princess will set sail on April 11, 2007 for a series of Greek Isles and Grand Mediterranean itineraries before repositioning over to Ft. Lauderdale for its fall Caribbean cruises. Royal Princess will sail -- beginning April 19, 2006 -- to the Holy Land for the first time in more than five years, as well as Ravenna, Italy; Split, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; and Canakkale, Turkey.
Further details on the double-duty ceremony will be released in coming months. We'll keep you posted, so check back often.
--by Erica Sapio, Assistant Editor