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Princess Patter

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

When I joined SS Oriana as my first ship in 1973, I was informed that a ship was like a floating city and with almost all services supplied shipboard whilst sailing the oceans of the world. Of course, this was pre the computer era and most admirative tasks were carried out manually in the purser’s office. One of my jobs at the time was costing all of the food and drink consumed on board and calculating the daily cost of feeding a passenger or member of the crew and supplying these figures to hotel services headquarters ashore. This was compared to the ship’s budget. I wish I could remember the daily cost per passenger but too much time has passed, and the grey cells cannot recall such detail.

All these calculations were done by hand with the help of Kalamazoo sheets that listed every item consumed on board. The only mechanical help was an adding machine with a paper till roll attached. The WAPS had the job of typing passenger and crew lists onto flimsy stencils that were attached to a roller in the Gestetner machine that allowed ink to pass through the stencil onto the paper. This was a thankless task that often ended up being covered in ink, or the stencil getting tangled and having to be retyped.

Meanwhile the Oriana daily news sheet and schedule was printer by the onboard printers that used linotype involving setting rows and row of metal letters into a frame, inked and being stamped onto paper. A very slow and time-consuming process.

Then along came Princess and the world had moved on. The purser’s office was fitted out with a Xerox photocopy machine for the passenger and crew list and general office work. However, this was not without its problems and we often had Xerox engineers waiting to board when we hit port to repair these temperamental machines.

The main printing on board was carried out by a single Italian printer using the latest printing technology of the day. I guess it was some type of laser printing. The item to be printed was laid out on a board this was photographed onto a negative which in turn was filled onto the printer a little bit like a large gestetner machine and then printed off. Of course, this could only use one colour. This was used for printing the Princess Patter and daily menus.


THANK YOU PETER SARA For the following.

The printing press on the Pacific Princess for the "Princess Patter" was indeed operated by a single Italian printer. The printing machine was a Heidelberg rotating drum printing press. I was the Senior 3rd Engineer Officer on the 12 to 4 and had the pleasure of fixing the printer one night as it seized halfway through the "Princess Patter" print run. So from 0400 to 0600 I worked on this wonderful machine. Fixed at 0600 the full print run was out for distribution for 0800. The wonders of being a Marine Engineer - "Jack of All Trades"


I’m not sure why the printing of the Princess Patter was the responsibility of the Deputy Purser in those early days of Princess Cruises. Usually late in the afternoon the printer would arrive at my office with the proof of the Patter for the next day. I really did not like this job. As you have probably gathered from these ramblings spelling is not my greatest asset.


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