At long last, P&O Princess is confirming what is possibly the worst-kept secret in cruise-dom. The company announced today that yes, indeedy, it has acquired the Tahiti-based former Renaissance ships R3 and R4. "Tahitian Princess" (R4) will join the Princess Cruises fleet and will sail year-round in French Polynesia. "Pacific Princess" (R3) will spend half the year in the Princess Cruises family, sailing Pacific-based itineraries, and the other half under the P&O banner. Under P&O, Pacific Princess will homeport in Sydney and call at French New Caledonia and other south Pacific ports.
The new ships will feature Princess' "Personal Choice Cruising" dining options. Previously, the 30,277-ton ships were owned by French investors and Renaissance Cruises, before it went belly-up last autumn, had leased the vessels. Under the terms of the new agreement, P&O Princess has acquired the ship through "a lease purchase structure at a total combined capital cost for the two ships of approximately $150 million," according to a company statement. Terms of the contract call for the ships to be deployed in the Pacific for at least the first two years of their operation; Princess says it expects to keep Tahitian Princess there for another three years.