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Royal Princess - A Profitable Weekend Cruise

By James Martin

ROYAL PRINCESS - Artist impression of a new era for cruising February 1982

There was great excitement in Hotel Services at the Southampton Briton Street offices in February 1982. The news of a new purpose-built cruise ship, the first for P&O. All the Princess ships had been purchased and the big liners had been converted to cruising. It was to be the largest purpose-built cruise ship ever constructed. All with outside cabins. We were shown the artist’s impression. It looked very impressive but, in the event, looked nothing like the finished product. The artist must have been given a great deal of license!

‘Royal Princess’ arrived in Southampton on November 5th. 1984 being welcomed by siren blasts from ships in the port and a fireboat, ready to be christened by Diana, Princess of Wales on November 15th.

She is seen here greeting people who had come to witness the naming ceremony and with Jeffrey Sterling who had become P&O’s chairman the previous year (later to become Sir Jeffrey and then Lord Sterling of Plaistow during his tenure at P&O).

Princess Diana with Capt. John Young

The Royal Princess, at a cost of $165 million, was the most expensive passenger ship built up to that time. It also had the distinction of being the first cruise ship to have only outside passenger cabins.

The following day ‘Royal Princess’ undertook a shake-down cruise. Two nights onboard for a trip to the Channel Islands and back. She was a full ship. Her guests included favoured travel agents, P&O shareholders, senior P&O pensioners, and P&O office staff with partners. It was mainly to test the hotel services operations, especially the new centralised EPOS (Electronic Point of sales) system.

We were encouraged to use services to test the billing arrangements. P&O were picking up ‘the tab’. Guests could enjoy the shows and take a flutter in the casino. That was when I found out that my wife had a penchant for playing craps. A life lived before I met her. We invested in some chips (for cash) and after several throws of the dice ended up £20 better off. When our account was posted under the door on Sunday morning, it showed we also had had a convivial couple of days with colleagues and the electronic systems had not failed.

Royal Princess’ sailing down Southampton Water November 19th. 1984 for her inaugural voyage to Miami to take her place in the US cruise market, joining her three smaller compatriots of Princess Cruises.

The plate commemorating the naming of ‘Royal Princess’ by the Princess of Wales.

My next meeting with this lovely lady was in July the following year, joining in Juneau during part of her Alaska season and leaving her in Victoria having made an evaluation of the effectiveness of Mexican manning arrangements that had recently been introduced.

My next meeting with this lovely lady was in July the following year, joining in Juneau during part of her Alaska season and leaving her in Victoria having made an evaluation of the effectiveness of Mexican manning arrangements that had recently been introduced.

A short flight to Vancouver where I met my younger sister, before flying back to the UK. Walking down the ramp having my boarding pass checked to join the CP Air flight, the plane’s Purser joined me. “Mr. Martin, I believe”. “We have plenty of space in First Class if you’d like to change your seat”. He had noticed my P&O Business Class booking on the manifest. It seems that the P&O brand still had ‘pull’.

She now sails as Phoenix Reisen’s ‘Artania’ and was seen recently in Sunderland! In 2005 she was transferred P&O Cruises (UK) and renamed ‘Artemis’ before moving to Phoenix Reisen’s fleet in 2011.


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Mark Goddard
Mark Goddard

In the article it shows a picture of a craps table and casino, however this does not look at all like an image from the casino on the ship, looks more like an image from a shorebased building, is that the case ?

Mark Goddard
Mark Goddard

Ha Ha, I just did some investigation work and found the image, you probably did a google search for "casino royale" LOL. I thought when I first saw that image it didnt look right, looked like a land based hotel rather than a casino, using a small craps table that a real casino would not use and the players looked ex military types from the USA. Should have searched the ex princess groups on facebook as plenty of real images of the real casino onboard. The real casino on the royal was a lovely space to work in as had good views from either side, plenty of passing traffic so plenty of fellow crew mates to chat to, easy access to…


Jamie, The Purser
Jamie, The Purser

Unknown member 5 minutes ago

Enjoyable and interesting tale of Royal Princess, the best looking cruise ship in her day, and even now in her new livery. Recall her maiden round the world cruise, cannot recall the year, but she looked magnificent sailing through the Hauraki Gulf, into the Port of Auckland. In these days it was possible to take a cruise boat to “meet the liners” and we would sail to ‘A‘ buoy, where the pilot boarded for the final leg into the Waitemata Harbour to berth at Princes Wharf. Amazingly the boat would be full at 5am and we would meet Royal Princess about 6am. I have video footage of this occasion ( somewhere) she was quite spectacular saili…

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