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Friday File: The Princess Celebration

Yesterday was the big day for Princess Cruises, which has had many big days over the last 50 years. Yesterday being December 3, it was the actual 50th anniversary of the first Princess cruise — Los Angeles to Mexico on the Princess Patricia. It was also the first day of the cruise to re-create that first itinerary, this time on the Pacific Princess. That was the name of The Love Boat that is credited with bringing cruising to the masses, but this is a more recent iteration, one that joined the fleet in 2002. The original Pacific Princess is long gone but her memories were ever-present yesterday at the 50th Anniversary bash in Southern California…

Princess Cruises celebrates their 50th Anniversary with the original cast of The Love Boat aboard Pacific Princess at the Port of Los Angeles on Thurs., Dec. 3, 2015, in San Pedro, Calif. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Princess Cruises/AP Images)

It’s been 29 years since The Love Boat’s nine-year reign ended on prime time television but six members of the cast were on hand yesterday: Bernie Kopell (Doc), Fred Frandy (Gopher), Ted Lange (Isaac), Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Lauren Tewes (Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki Stubing).

Princess Patricia

The ship that started it all, the Princess Patricia, which sailed the Mexican Riviera on the first week of December 1965.

Pacific Princess-1

It was the original Pacific Princess that became The Love Boat and made a TV show, a crew of actors and the cruise industry famous.

Royal Princess-Kate

Two years ago, Kate the Duchess of Cambridge christened the Royal Princess to join the family of Princess Godmothers — which includes Princess Diana.

2015 Princess Rose Parade Float Photo by Rob Comeau for Princess Cruises

The 50th anniversary celebrations kicked off 328 days ago, with a float in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

Capt. Ravera

Gavin MacLeod notwithstanding, Captain Stefano Ravera is our favorite Princess captain, from an Alaska cruise on the Star Princess.

Majestic Princess

To validate how far the cruise line has come since 1965, take a peek at the Majestic Princessdue to make its maiden voyage in 2017.

– Love Boat reunion photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Princess Cruises/AP Images) & Rose Parade Float photo by Rob Comeau

In the news…

• Carnival Live’s new performer: comedian Kathy Griffin, for two cruises in February
• MSC Armonia and Opera both to have Havana as home port next November

Today at portsandbows.comPrincess does it right for passengers 


Holland America Amsterdam
1 night
May 21, 2016
Vancouver, Seattle
Inside: $99
Cost per day: $99
www.hollandamerica.com

What It's Like To Captain A Cruise Ship

Capt. Ravera-9

All cruise ship captains have stories to tell about life as a captain. Some tell, some don’t.

Captain Stefano Ravera of the Star Princess has a few he’s willing to share…

About what happened in Papeete, in the South Pacific:

“We were supposed to receive the food for the first leg of the world cruise. The ship bringing the container over from New Zealand was two days late because of bad weather. We started our cruise but we did not have enough food so when the container arrived, we were already at the second island. We rented a small boat capable of transporting a truck with the containers; we took it to the next island, Moorea.  We were using tenders for the passengers so I dedicate one tender for provisions. I said: ‘Since we all eat, I need people from all departments. We took ten people from every department, and we loaded 20 tons of food. It took just a good afternoon.”

About a funny response in Dakar (Senegal):

“They wanted us to send ashore only the people on tours. When I asked why, they said: ‘Oh, we don’t know if they will want to go back on the ship.’ I said: ‘I’m very sure that they won’t stay.’ We had quite a long discussion with the authorities. They thought passengers Capt. Ravera-4wanted to stow away in the car. I said I don’t really think that they will.”

About what it takes to be a captain:

“Lots of people think my only challenge is the nautical side, which is not really true — this challenge is everywhere and anywhere. It can go from nautical to receive the food supply, like that time in Papeete.”

About all the ships in his resume:

“This is number 12. Yes, you do get attached. My first command was the Dawn Princess. Then to the Ocean Princess, which was the Tahitian — she will be sold in 2016 — because I was four years with her. I was very sad.”

About the Gulf War of 1991:

“I was working on a military ship as a liaison offer for Italian merchant navy, to organize and assess preparation for navigation in the gulf for our expedition there, because I had experience in the Gulf previously with the merchant marine. One time I was on a cargo ship that was hijacked, but we were released after a relatively short time. Militarily, let’s just say we were involved to a certain degree…”

About why cruise ships generally enjoy smooth sailing:

“Various reasons, such as the distribution of weight…the provisions…number of passengers and crew. The center of gravity is always monitored…and we must comply with an extra safety margin taking into account rough weather. The ship will be comfortable, and aways safe. The vessel may move but we will have gentle movements, especially for first-time cruisers. Stabilizers tilt at positive and negative angles to achieve the dampening effect to smooth down the rolling of the vessel. The pitching of the vessel — back and forth, front to back — cannot be dampened by any instrument or equipment, only by changing the course of the ship.”

About his scariest day in the Italian Navy:

“Thank God I didn’t die. We were sent out to rescue people. It was August 2, 1982. We capsized — and I woke up in the hospital.”

Today at portsandbows.com: First looks at new river cruiser AmaDara

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
October 5, 2015
Jacksonville (return): Nassau, Freeport
Inside: $279
Cost per day: $55
www.carnival.com

Lessons From Star Princess ‘Master’

My father taught us this: “Be happy with what you achieve, wherever you are. Try to do your best and be honest.” The teaching of life when we grew up was integrity, honesty and be happy with what we have. If you keep chasing something you will never be happy. You have to have a goal in life. It’s good to aspire to something but you don’t have to be selfish.

With every life, there are at least two stories, one personal and one professional. With Captain Stefano Ravera, Master of the Star Princess, both are interesting.

Capt. RaveraThis is the personal, yet it touches on the professional.

He comes from a small town on the east coast of Italy, near La Spezia, which is considered a small town because it’s lightly known, an after-thought by Italy’s Cinque Terre. The father he talks about was also a ship’s master, an occupation that rubbed off on both his sons, Stefano the elder and Paolo the younger. Ironically, today they both command Princess ships (Paolo is on the Sea Princess).

While their father’s skills rubbed off, it was not a given.

“No,” recalls Stefano, “we just like it. My father told us to do what we want. My sister doesn’t sail. She is nine years younger and has a university degree in language.”

There are cruise ship captains…and there are cruise ship captains. In the Ravera family, there’s clearly a code of ethics. Also responsibility.

Here is his:

“If I have a crew member who went to the hospital and I went to see them, or a passenger, they say ‘How come you came to the hospital?’ I say ‘Because you are in the hospital’ and I come to see how you are, if I can. If my mother’s in the hospital, I go. Why not? I try to pass this message to younger officers because we have a responsibility to bring up the younger generation. We cannot say the world is not good because of them. The world may not be good because we don’t create a better place.

“People will spend years to complain but will never spend one second to say thank-you. So it’s very important to spend that second to look after someone. Something that for us may take 10 minutes, but for another person it might last an entire life. We should never avoid doing that. It is very important. I believe in that. It’s my two-penny opinion.

“Every day I learn something. Every day is a learning day. You never stop learning, not even when you retire. I can see my father. He’s 86 years old and every day he learns something and he’s happy to do that. That I think is the way you have to approach life, with a positive attitude. Try to be a mentor for the future generation and pass what little I know to the other people.”

So it’s as much about the type of person he is as the type of captain. This was not a self-serving speech from the bridge…this was from a casual conversation in his office, a post-Capt. Raverascript to an interview about living your life at sea, which he has pretty much done since joining the Italian Merchant Marine as a 16-year-old deck boy 39 years ago.

It is his life. He hopes that will continue for 11 more years.

Nine months of every year, he’s on a ship — “That is my choice’ — and in the other three he spends time with his parents in Italy, his children in Eastern Canada and his partner in South Africa, where she is a doctor.

If he sees his brother, it’s usually like ships passing in the night, although one time they were on the Coral Princess together during a “shift change that lasted for two days in Fort Lauderdale.

“That was very nice, but we keep it low key,” smiles Stefano.

They are, however, a trivia item among cruise ship captains, or masters. One of his ships was the late Pacific Sky and Paolo is a former captain of her sister ship before it became the old and now-retired Dawn Princess.

“We both had the chance, being not extremely old, to command steam-turbine ships and that will never happen to any captain now on a passenger ship,” he explains. “The Sky was the last one afloat.”

The brothers share another quirk.

We’d heard Captain Ravera often refer to the Star Princess as “the white lady” so we asked him why.

“It’s a little tradition between me and my brother that we had in our family, because ships are female and passengers ships, most of the time, are painted white. So we call her the white lady because they are elegant, like a lady.”

Today at portsandbows.com: How to be loyal before being a cruise customer

Crown Princess
10 nights
September 23, 2015
Los Angeles (return): San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Loreto, Puerto Vallarta
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $64
www.princess.com

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