April 18, 2003
Princess Cruises' 113,000-ton, 2,600-passenger Diamond Princess, the cruise line's newest new build, was "floated out" last weekend at its shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan. There were the usual "traditional" festivities which, unlike inaugural celebrations few cruise passengers ever see and these included breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow and sounding the ship's horn as it was towed from drydock. A Princess Cruises statement mentions that, while being towed for the float-out, the Diamond Princess was "flanked by fireboats spraying green, red, blue and yellow-colored water into the air." That's an eerie reminder that this Diamond originally was named Sapphire Princess until a near-devastating fire in the shipyard last fall severely damaged the original Diamond Princess (now known as Sapphire Princess and under construction as well). The "new" Diamond Princess will debut next March and sail a series of Mexican Riviera itineraries from its seasonal homeport in Los Angeles. Then the ship will head north, where it will offer Alaska cruises from Seattle.