The incredible history of Princess Cruises (P&O) & The Love Boat!

Princess cruise ships are still represented in reception of the Southampton P&O building. They still have offices there and use the port, with many sailings from Southampton. So, they are a genuine option for many UK cruisers who like these ships. The company used to be directly joined to P&O, now all three companies in that building, Princess, P&O and Cunard are all owned by Carnival. With the Adonia gone, Princess offers the only real small ship experience with the Pacific Princess. The rest of the ships are larger with excellent features. The history of the company is quite amazing, it is maybe, the history of cruising as we know it. If you remember the TV series The Love Boat, then you might know it was based on the ships of Princess Cruises but you might not know it starred the very young Tom Hanks! The company which was joined at the hip with P&O emerged in 2000 and they are both now part of the US brand Carnival. Princess still has many sailings from Southampton, still loved by British cruisers, and there are still Princess Ships displayed in cases in the reception of the P&O building in Southampton.

1965 – Princess Cruises was founded by ex Navy air corps man Stanley B. McDonald. He was born in Alberta, Canada and educated at Roosevelt High School in Seattle and then University of Washington. He started by forming a company called Airmac which was to transport circus and fairground equipment for The World’s Fair. He then charter a ship to transport public to the World’s Fair. The expansion was chartering the ship Princess Patricia for cruise holidays. The first winter season started in November and the ship went to Mexico.

1966 – The ship was returned to its owners, and in 1967 the Princess Italia was chartered, which was one of the first ships built specifically for cruising. This was the birth era of cruising. It was time when the first cruise ships went through the Panama Canal.

1968 – Saw the Princess Carla was chartered as a second ship and the witch logo was used. Boise Cascade purchase the Princess company from McDonald who had also merged his Airmac business into the RCA corporation in 1969. Transatlantic cruises started and in 1969 the company offered their first Alaska cruises.

1970 – sees Stanley McDonald purchase the Princess back from Boise Cascade, return the Princess Carla to its owners, and by 1972 he takes the ship Island Venture under the new name of Island Princess and forms Princess Tours.

1973 – The Princess Italia is returned to its owners and the game is stepped up as by 1974 Princess acquires P&O, which was then the Pennisular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company. The Pacific Princess joins new fleet (formerly Sea Venture), and the Sun Princess  (formerly P&O’s Spirit of London).

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1975 – Cruising was becoming fashionable high life and Princess agreed to be the location settings to a new US TV series “The Love Boat” TV series which begins filming the following year staring Phil Silvers. The first episode saw had multiple titles Newlyweds/The Exchange/Cleo’s First Voyage – In it, guest stars Georgia Engel was a stowaway, Gary Frank and Melanie Mayron were a pair of tremulous honeymooners, Stella Stevens and Pat Harrington were an eternally bickering married couple, and Audra Lindley and Phil Silvers were, respectively, an outspoken middle-aged lady and a woebegone widower. This made cruising stand out and the show ran ten years. And yes, spot a very young Tom Hanks. How much did TV advance cruising???

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1979 – Now on a growing wave, Princess Tours acquired Johansen Royal Tours, then in 1980 Stanley McDonald left the company having purchase the realestate assets of the Chrysler Corporation. 1981 saw the birth era of what we now refer to as Caribbean season as the ships stopped at the private Caribbean island, Palm Island in Grenadines.

1984 – expansion added the Royal Princess joins fleet with the innovative feature of all outside passenger cabins. In 185 the Pacific Princess starts the company’s first Mediterranean season then becomes the first cruise ship to base in San Diego.

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1986 – sees further expansion when the Sea Princess joins the fleet from P&O (formerly Kungsholm) and debuts their new “Voyage of the Glaciers” route. By 1987 Caribbean cruises were sailing out of Miami, Asia was added as well the first Baltic cruise. By 1988 P&O acquire Sitmar Cruises and further ships join the fleet. Dawn Princess (formerly Fairwind). Fair Princess (formerly Fairsea). Sky Princess (formerly Frisky) and the Sun Princess is sold before the Star Princess joins fleet in 1989, the Crown Princess joins in 1990 and the Regal Princess joins in 1991. Interestingly, the Sea Princess then transferred to P&O as the Victoria.

1993 – by this time the company was trading in private islands and hotels, it chartered the Golden Princess from Royal Viking and the Dawn Princess was sold. Progressing to ships with more options the Sun Princess joined the fleet in 1995 and boasted the largest number of balcony cabins, the first 24-hour café and the debut. The Fair Princess was transferred to P&O Australia and the following year the Golden Princess was returned to owner. The in and out continued as Princess continued on the success of the TV series and its product. In comes the Dawn Princess in 1997 as the Star Princess is transferred to P&O becoming Arcadia. In 1998 Grand Princess and Sea Princess join the fleet as “Love Boat: the Next Wave” debuts starring football player turned actor Robert Urich, but although it only runs two seasons we do get the long overdue first wedding chapel at sea.

1999 – sees the company debut its internet web site! The Island Princess is sold and the millennium sees P&O Princess International demerged from P&O. Ties seem strong though because as the Ocean Princess joins fleet, the Sky Princess is transferred to P&O Australia becoming Pacific Sky. The first cruises to Bermuda take place which is significant, because registry of the fleet then transfers there.

2001 – sees customer options leading a new style of cruising with dining choices. The Golden Princess joins fleet and headquarters moves to Santa Clarita, California. In 2002 the Star Princess & Tahitian Princess join and the original Pacific Princess is sold. Also out go the Crown Princess transferred to become A’ROSA Blu, and the Ocean Princess goes to P&O Cruises and becomes the Oceana.

2003 sees P&O Princess International acquired by Carnival Corporation. Coral Princess, a new Pacific Princess and a new Island Princess join the fleet. The Sea Princess is transferred to become the Adonia at P&O. It was the year of the first Antarctica cruise.

2004 – sees that the shake up is not over as the Cunard Line is integrated into Princess operations. Diamond Princess, Caribbean Princess, Sapphire Princess join the fleet allowing the Royal Princess to go to P&O Cruises as the Artemis in 2005. And on its 40th anniversary the Sea Princess returns leaving P&O with no Adonia.

2006 – and an amazing growth over 40 years sees the Crown Princess joins, then in 2007 the Emerald Princess and the new Royal Princess joins fleet. Out goes the Regal Princess to P&O Australia becoming Pacific Dawn. In 2008 the Ruby Princess joins, which is a sister ship to the Ventura and Azura and the close ties are still evident. In the following years the Tahitian Princess is renamed the Ocean Princess and then the small ship the Royal Princess transferred to P&O Cruises to sail as Adonia.

2010 – is the beginning of the era of digital travel documents, making more of direct web booking and flagging the future. In 2013 a new Regal Princess joins fleet and in 2015 the company turned 50 years old. Mcdonald had died the year before aged 94. Now in 2018 Princess Cruises has 13 fantastic ships, and only one is a small ship experience; The Pacific Princess, which is the sister to the three Azamara Club Cruise and it will be interesting to see if Carnival and Royal Caribbean do a deal to take the forth small ship so Azamara have a full set. A life on the ocean waves, so much drama.

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How about reading one of our adventure cruise ship crime novels written by the team here at Doris Visits who have written movies and TV until these books. Paperback, Kindle and audiobooks are slowly loading in 2022

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You should dress for a cruise with Princess the same way you would for any stylish land-based resort.

Smart Casual
Guest attire should be in keeping with what they would wear to a nice restaurant at home.

  • Skirts/dresses, slacks, and sweaters for ladies
  • Pants and open-neck shirts for men

Inappropriate dinner wear such as pool or beach attire, shorts, ball caps and casual jeans (with fraying and/or holes) are not permitted in the dining rooms. Shoes must be worn.

When formal nights are held, please observe the dress code in the Traditional Dining and Anytime Dining venues for the enjoyment of all our guests.

  • Evening gowns and cocktail dresses for women
  • Tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits with a tie for men

Princess offers formal wear rental on all cruises; this can be arranged prior to embarkation.

Dress with an elegance and style that is perfect for all the formal activities on your cruise with Princess. Cruiseline Formal Wear delivers beautifully-tailored clothing directly to your stateroom.