In a jaw-dropping announcement today, P&O Princess Cruises has announced it's merging with Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean's chairman and chief executive Richard Fain will assume the same post with the as-yet unnamed new mega-cruise company. Princess head honcho Peter Ratcliffe, will become managing director and chief operating officer. All three lines -- Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity -- will retain distinct and separate, at least for now. The merger is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2002.
The combined company will have 41 ships and 75,000 berths compared to Carnival Corp.'s 43 ships and 61,000 berths. Which makes the Princess/Royal Caribbean combined-company the world's leading (i.e. biggest) cruise line. Carnival, which until today held title as the industry's largest company, may need to rethink its tag line.