New Ship: The Royal Princess


The cruise industry is continuing to add new ships.

Princess Cruise Lines will launch the Royal Princess in June 2013. The ship will ultimately have a Mediterranean itinerary.  However, it’s maiden voyage will be June 6, 2013, from London for a 7-day Iberian sailing. The ship departs from Southampton, a two-hour drive south of London. Southampton is surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain with landscapes of valleys, dales, downs, forests, hills and heaths.

I am planning to sail on this inaugural voyage.  If one is sailing from England, it makes sense to see some of England first, and I’ll be arranging a pre-trip in London and the surrounding region.  It really makes sense to enjoy a couple of extra days at the ports of embarkation and disembarkation. After all, you’ve already invested in the airfare.

The Royal Princess itinerary begins with the port of Vigo, Spain. The medieval heritage of Vigo is reflected in the narrow streets and granite houses of the old fisherman’s quarter.  Vigo is the gateway to Santiago de Compostela, the most venerated shrine in Europe during the Middle Ages.

The next port is Lisbon, Portugal.  Lisbon was once the center of a vast maritime empire.  It is a stately city of neoclassical buildings and wide plazas linked to the sea.  Its harbor is spanned by the longest suspension bridge in Europe.

A fascinating port is Gibraltar, Great Britain.  Five countries battled for 1300 years to control the passage between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.  Today, helmeted bobbies and pubs reflect a bit of Britain in the Mediterranean.

Next, visit Malaga, Spain, the gateway to the Costa del Sol and Granada.  Here you will find whitewashed houses and sunny plazas  . . . the delightful image of Spain you expect!

Finally, the Royal Princess arrives in Barcelona, a charming city with architecture by Gaudi, tree-lined promenades, historic churches, the famous Picasso Museum, and the site of the 1992 Summer Olympics.  Most famous among the churches is the Sagrada Familia Church designed by Guadi.  Stay an extra day or two in Barcelona. Take a half-day excursion to Montserrat to see the Benedictine Monastery dating from the 14th century.

A long tradition when ships enter service is the christening. Some years ago, we had the opportunity to be present for the christening of two Princess ships on two separate occasions..  Margaret Thatcher christened the Regal Princess and Sophia Loren christened the Crown Princess.  The Pipes and Drums of the Scots Guard played.  At banquets following the christenings, in true British style, toasts were proposed with the words “Will you kindly be upstanding!”

I’m wondering and hoping that Princess Kate will do the honors for the Royal Princess, but the ship’s Godmother has not been announced.

Following the maiden voyage, the Royal Princess will spend the summer sailing 12-day voyages from Barcelona to Venice.  The great itinerary includes Provence, Florence and Pisa, Rome, Capri and Pompeii, Mykonos, Istanbul, Ephesus and Athens, truly a spectacular array of ports.

You can sign up for an 18-day Mediterranean itinerary and crossing of the Atlantic to Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 9, as the Royal Princess comes to the United States.

Next time on Travel Explorations we’ll discuss a new Carnival ship and 4 new Viking River Cruises ships.

This is Katherine Satrom for Travel Explorations.

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