Sales Booming for a New Princess

We visited friends who are going on a Panama Canal cruise next month. We asked which cruise line they had booked.

"P&O," was the answer.

Knowing that P&O rarely goes through the Panama Canal, and not at all in April, we questioned the answer.

"P&O…Princess…same thing."

P&O and Princess are both owned by Carnival. P&O once owned Princess, which is why our friends thought that was still the case. In the world of corporate gobblydegook, maybe that is still the case in the fine print, because nine years ago P&O Princess Cruises and Carnival Corporation merged to form the world's largest cruise corporation.

But for people who cruise, there are P&O ships and cruises, and there are Princess ships and cruises. And sometimes, it seems like there have always been Princess ships.

So it comes as a mild surprise to hear that last week Princess set its all-time, one-day sales record for a ship's inaugural season, after all the years (47) it has been taking people on inaugural cruises. Actually, it was the biggest booking day in history — if you insist on splitting hairs — and what's even stranger is that Princess is providing no details.

Such as, how many bookings make a record?

The ship is the Royal Princess, which will make its inaugural cruise in June 2013. She will sail from Southampton to Barcelona, then spend next summer on 12-day Mediterranean cruises before embarking on its inaugural Atlantic crossing in September.

There's a number of reasons why passengers are making the Royal Princess such a hot item. Some will like the over-water SeaWalk, which hangs 28 feet off the starboard side. Some endorse having 80 per cent of the staterooms with balconies and more room in the adults-only area, The Sanctuary.

And some are just loyal Princess patrons who have waited too long — five years — to see a new Princess ship.

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