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Princess Patter 1977 - 2021


When I descended the gangway of Island Princess on 23rd April 1977 little did I realise I would not set foot on another cruise ship for over four decades? Fate stepped in. Although I did do a short spell on a couple of cargo ships for Canadian Pacific, my time working at sea was almost over. The next forty years were spent self-employed in the hotel and catering business.

Until I retired at the end of 2019 I had never thought of taking a cruise. A retirement cruise was planned for January 2020 but of course, this was thwarted by Covid 19, but did finally take place this summer and was enjoyed so much that a second cruise quickly followed on Sky Princess.



What I had not anticipated before boarding Sky Princess was the fact that the daily activity sheet was still called “The Princess Patter”,


The printing onboard Island Princess back in the 1970s was operated by a single Italian printer. The printing machine was a Heidelberg rotating drum printing press. When I was deputy purser in 1977 the printer that l worked with was a guy called Franco. Franco printed the menu’s each day. From memory, the menu cards were pre-printed with colour pictures and Franco would overprint the daily menus, he also did all the incidental printing like cocktail party initiations and various forms required around the ship. His main job each day was of course printing the daily “Princess Patter”, once again the blank Patters came onboard with the coloured heading already printed. The rest of the content was printed with black ink.





The cruise director and the deputy purser were responsible for the Patter content. Once the content was laid out on a mock-up this was delivered to my office and once l had checked the content, I would then pass it onto the cruise director to check that the daily schedule was correct.


Yes, mistakes sometimes happened but hopefully not too many. By late afternoon this went back to the printer to go to press for delivery to cabins in the evening.





The print shop on Island Princess and Pacific Princess was next to the ship’s brig. This in fact was a padded cell. I remember on one occasion when it was used on Pacific Princess during Australian cruising. A female named Linda had contacted Princess Cruises booking office on the morning of the cruise and ascertained that there was a free berth in a shared cabin. She was told the cabin number and promptly got a visitors pass to board the ship. This was easy to do in the 1970’s It was prior to the Oriana Bomb Hoax in 1978 after which security was tightened up. Having settled into her cabin she enjoyed a few days of freedom around the ship. I cannot remember exactly the incident that exposed her as a stowaway. She appeared before the Captain and explained that she was a journalist and was writing an article about stowing away on “The Love Boat”


She was detained at the Captain’s pleasure in the ship’s brig. At mealtimes, a senior officer had to accompany the steward with her meals. She had a habit of sitting on the bed displaying her wares when the door was opened. She was landed into police custody when we arrived back in Sydney.



The print is a little small and hard to read in 2021 and the print shows through the paper from the reverse side.


After embarkation on Sky Princess this September I was greeted by a copy of the Princess Patter. The first difference l noticed was the quality of the paper. Originally the design was printed on American tabloid-size quality paper folded down the middle as compared to the rather poor quality double-sided American letter size used today.


Consequently, with more activities on today’s mega liners, the print was very small and compact, compared to the four pages where there was room for some photographs and more general information. I guess in today's world modern digital technology makes it is easier to display more information around the ship.




I found the interactive deck plans around the Sky Princess to be a great help in navigating around the nineteen decks of this magnificent Ship. Although I did occasional revert to my instilled instructions from 40 years ago.

Port – odd numbers Starboard - even numbers to work out if I was heading Fore or Aft.





The digital displays around the "Medallion Class" Sky Princess are excellent and replace a lot of the content from the Princess Patters of the early years of Princess Cruises.








At times I was tempted to venture beyond the “Crew Only” doors to discover the inner workings of the ship. A glimpse through one such door onto a basic companionway reminded me of one occasion as a junior officer on Oriana where I had been invited down to a crew party. In those days it was frowned upon for Officers to go down below to socialise. I became rather the worse for wear and decided it would be inappropriate to return to my cabin on the bathing deck passing through passenger decks. So I started to work my way up some ten decks hanging onto the handrails of a working companionway only to meet the Deputy Captain halfway up. I believe it was Capt. Ian Gibb, who later became Captain of the New Oriana.


Captain Ian Gibb appointed Captain of Oriana


He never mentioned the incident. I often wonder what would have happened if it had been Capt. Wacher who l had met on the stairwell.


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Salty Seadog
Salty Seadog
Nov 22, 2021

The HR Officer on Sky Princess was British, I suppose she is the equivalent of the Crew Purser in our time. One or two others but not many Brits that I came into contact with John. I did chat to one Australian Officer who was travelling supernumerary as she was not allowed to enter her home country of Australia yet.


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John Martin
John Martin
Nov 21, 2021

Graham had to do his own typesetting.


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John Martin
John Martin
Nov 21, 2021

I loved the smell of ink in the Printer's shop on Elder Dempster mailboats. Here with Graham Austin, 'Aureol's letter press printer who used to have to do his own type setting. This photo also featured in a newsletter of 'St.Nicks' on the Liverpool pierhead as we were both bell-ringers there when home. As 'Aureol' had ten day turn-rounds in Liverpool every six weeks it gave Graham two practice nights and a Sunday service ring every time the ship was in port. He was one of the ringers at my wedding there, 'the seaman's church'.


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John Martin
John Martin
Nov 21, 2021

Quite a few names there on the IP 'Princess Patter' that I recognise. A time when nearly all the ships officers were British, the Bedroom Stewards (who serviced the Staterooms!) and Public Room personnel were also British, most of the entertainers as well. Just the catering concession were Italian including the 'Chief Steward' and his assistant. I was looking for a British sounding name on the Senior Officers digital display of Sky Princess. I guess under the Bermudan Flag it matters not as to the nationality of its senior officers.

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