May 8, 2001
In the latest round of cruise ship launches, Princess' Golden Princess, sister ship to the 109,000-ton 2,600-passenger Grand Princess, began its maiden voyage last weekend from Southampton. The ship, which will be one of the biggest to ply Europe's waterways this summer, will feature a Mediterranean itinerary that goes from Barcelona to Istanbul (or vice versa) through September. The only genuinely new additions to Golden Princess are that the ship has the fleet's first AOL Internet Café and its Digital Photo Center is set up to allow passengers to have shots taken at their convenience (what a concept!). Otherwise, fans of Grand Princess who sail on Golden Princess will experience the usual deja vu that exists with ships-in-a-class aside from, perhaps, some cosmetic differences. Among them? Three main show lounges, three main restaurants, a nine-hole putting green, two-level kids centers and the shopping-cart handled-exterior of the top-deck nightclub (complete with glass-enclosed, moving skywalk). The ship, which in addition to the embarkation/debarkation ports of Istanbul and Barcelona will also visit Monte Carlo, Florence, Naples, Venice, and Athens, among others, will, uniquely (for such a large ship, anyway) feature overnight stays in some of the key ports. These include Barcelona, Venice and Istanbul.