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History of Princess Cruises – 50th Anniversary of “The Love Boat” Cruise Line
SS Princess Patricia, the first LOVE BOAT, docks in San Francisco.

History of Princess Cruises – 50th Anniversary of “The Love Boat” Cruise Line

The SS Princess Patricia was the first “Love Boat”!

  • For those not old enough to recall the ABC-TV series, “The Love Boat” debuted in 1977 and lasted until 1986.
  • The series showcased cruising to the mass market.
  • It is safe to say that ‘The Love Boat” single handedly introduced the concept of vacation cruising to the masses and was responsible for over a billion dollars in revenue for passenger travel by ship.
  • It could be called the greatest dramatic info-commercial of all time.

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Last week Princess Cruises announced that it was scheduling the Pacific Princess (above) for a 14-night 50th Anniversary cruise from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera on December 3, 2015, fifty years to the day after the chartered Princess Patricia (top) departed on her first voyage for the new line.

Last week Princess Cruises announced that it was scheduling the Pacific Princess (above) for a 14-night 50th Anniversary cruise from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera on December 3, 2015, fifty years to the day after the chartered Princess Patricia (top) departed on her first voyage for the new line.

  • For two seasons Princess Patricia was chartered to Stan McDonald, a Canadian-born businessman now in Seattle, for cruising between Los Angeles and Acapulco during the winter.McDonald became excited about cruising during the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.
  • He eventually branched out to other vessels but chose to name his new company Princess Cruises after the venerable Princess Patricia.History of the S.S. Princess Patricia and the legacy of naming the “Love Boat” ships of Princess Cruises.

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  • It all started with the Canadian Pacific Railway’s costal liners…
  • The Canadian Princess Railway formed the British Columbia Coast Steamship Service (BCCSS), which would provide passenger service to various coastal communities for the next 80 years.
  • Many of its special breeds of coastal ships bore the name “Princess”.
  • The CPR celebrated 100 years of service in 1981, the same year in which its last remaining cruise ship, the SS Princess Patricia (the original Princess Cruise Line’s Love Boat) was tied up, ending that phase of transportation service in the Pacific Northwest.

A painting by Michael L. Grace of the first “Love Boat” and original cruise ship of Princess Cruises – the PRINCESS PATRICIA. The ship is seen sailing under the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro – for her first (Princess) cruise to Mexico.

The Princess Patricia under steam. How she would have appeared when making her first Princess Line Cruises.

The early CPNC ship Islander set the precedent for the Princess ships that would become the backbone of the eventual CPR fleet servicing the BC coast and Alaska.

When built, she was the most luxurious vessel on the west coast.

She began cruising to Alaska in 1889, when the arrival of a steamer as elegant as Islander was a big event.

Her career ended suddenly when carrying gold and passengers south from Skagway on July 13, 1892.

The ship sank after hitting a submerged rock or drifting iceberg; 42 perished.

The “Princess” title came to be used for CPR ships because of the aging CPNC vessel Princess Louise.

The popular “Empress” ships were already established in the Pacific, so the decision was made to carry out a royal theme, with smaller coastal ships bearing the prefix “Princess”.

Princess Victoria was the first purpose-built ship for the BCCSS, and immediately set the standards for luxury liners on the coast.

Both the appearance of her hull and superstructure as well as interior arrangement would be copied for many subsequent Princess ships.

The smaller Princess Beatrice was the first CPR Princess built in British Columbia.

By 1907, Princess May and the new Princess Royal began regular 6-day sailings to Skagway.

A year later, the CPR inaugurated its famous Triangle Route, with service between Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria. Princess Charlotte joined the fleet, handling the Triangle Route as well as occasional excursions to Alaska.

From 1910-1911, four more Princesses (Princess Mary, Princess Adelaide, Princess Alice and Princess Sophia) were built and a newly purchased ship was renamed Princess Patricia.

In 1913, Princess Maquinna joined the fleet.

World War I expropriated two new Princess ships for the war effort; neither ship ever joined the CPR fleet.

After the war, shipyard space in Europe was fully booked so the CPR had Princess Louise built in British Columbia.

She was very well appointed, and could boast that all 133 first class staterooms had both hot and cold running water. In 1922, she began a 40-year career running to Alaska, earning her nickname “Queen of the Northern Seas”.

As the years passed, the CRP continued to add to its fleet and its routes, replacing old ships with new.

Princess Patricia in Acapulco, Mexico on her first Princess Cruise.

Princess Patricia docked in Ensenada, Mexico. During the first year of Princess Cruises – the company operated short cruises to Ensenada.

Ariel view of the Princess Patricia. On her way to Alaska.

During the 1920s, cruising to Alaska was very profitable, with three Princess ships making the voyage in the summer months.

Occupancy was regularly 97 percent and during one season the three ships handled 10,000 passengers on 22 voyages. Revenues dwindled during the Great Depression, and the BCCSS disposed of old or redundant vessels. World War II saw several Princess ships requisitioned for use as troop transports and supply ships.

After the war, Princess Kathleen was rebuilt for the Alaska Service.

Two new sister ships were built for the Triangle Run, Princess Marguerite and Princess Patricia, named for earlier CPR ships. In 1952, Princess Kathleen ran onto rocks in Lynn Canal.

Fortunately, there was no loss of life but the ship sank. For the next 10 years, Princess Louise handled CPR’s Alaska cruises alone. The arrival of car ferries spelled the end of coastal service and the CPR ended its regular Triangle Run.

Princess Marguerite stayed on a daily summer route to Seattle, while a refurbished Princess Patricia took over the Vancouver-Skagway-Juneau run in 1963.

For two seasons Princess Patricia was chartered to Stan McDonald, a Canadian-born businessman now in Seattle, for cruising between Los Angeles and Acapulco during the winter. McDonald became excited about cruising during the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. He eventually branched out to other vessels but chose to name his new company Princess Cruises after the venerable Princess Patricia.

Princess Patricia docked in Vancouver, BC, Canada. These were the original colors during the period Stanley McDonald charted the night boat from CPR. The two stacks were later changed to the red colors seen in the photos above.

The Princess Patricia became the last remaining passenger ship in the CPR fleet, continuing to sail to Alaska each summer until that era ended on October 12, 1981. Her legacy lived on with the many ships of Princess Cruise Lines.

The History of Princess Cruises: A Timeline of Key Events

1965
• Company founder Stanley B. McDonald charters Princess Patricia and forms Princess Cruises — first winter season of Mexico cruises starts in November
1966
• Princess Patricia returned to owners
1967
• Princess Italia chartered (one of first modern ships built specifically for cruising)
• First Panama Canal cruises (company pioneered regularly scheduled Canal cruises)
1968
• Princess Carla chartered
• Seawitch logo makes first appearance
• Boise Cascade purchases Princess
• First Alaska season (Princess Italia)
• First transatlantic sailing (13-day Nassau-Genoa, Princess Italia)
1970
• Stanley McDonald repurchases Princess from Boise Cascade
• Princess Carla returned to owners
1972
• Island Princess joins fleet (formerly Island Venture)
• Princess Tours founded
1973
• Princess Italia returned to owners
1974
• Princess acquired by the Pennisular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O)
• Pacific Princess joins fleet (formerly Sea Venture)
• Sun Princess joins fleet (formerly P&O’s Spirit of London)
1975
• “The Love Boat” TV series developed by producer Aaron Spelling; Princess agrees to become backdrop for the show
1976
• “The Love Boat” begins filming
1979
• Princess Tours acquires Johansen Royal Tours
1980
• Stanley McDonald departs company
1981
• Princess begins calling at first private Caribbean island, Palm Island in Grenadines
1984
• Royal Princess joins fleet (innovative ship features all outside cabins)
1985
• Pacific Princess launches company’s first Mediterranean season
• First major cruise line to base a ship in San Diego (Pacific Princess to Mexico)
1986
• Sea Princess joins fleet from P&O (formerly Kungsholm)
• New “Voyage of the Glaciers” route debuts (Vancouver/Whittier on Sea Princess)
• New private island, Mayreau (Grenadines), replaces Palm Island
1987
• Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge opens
• First Caribbean cruises from Miami
• First Asia cruises (Royal Princess)
• First Northern Europe (Baltic) cruises
1988
• P&O acquires Sitmar Cruises
• Dawn Princess joins fleet (formerly Fairwind)
• Fair Princess joins fleet (formerly Fairsea)
• Sky Princess joins fleet (formerly Fairsky)
• Sun Princess sold
• First Midnight Sun Express Railcars built
1989
• Star Princess joins fleet
1990
• Crown Princess joins fleet
• Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge opens
• Captain’s Circle loyalty program begins
1991
• Regal Princess joins fleet
• Sea Princess transferred to P&O as Victoria
1992
• New private island launched (Princess Cays in Eleuthera)
1993
• Golden Princess chartered (formerly Royal Viking Sky)
• Dawn Princess sold
• Fairbanks Princess Hotel opens
1995
• Sun Princess joins fleet (debuts largest number of balcony cabins)
• First 24-hour café debuts
• Fair Princess transferred to P&O Australia
1996
• Golden Princess returned to owner
• C.R.U.I.S.E. customer service program debuts
1997
• Dawn Princess joins fleet
• Star Princess transferred to P&O becoming Arcadia
• Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge opens
1998
• Grand Princess joins fleet
• Sea Princess joins fleet
• “Love Boat: the Next Wave” debuts
• First world cruise (Island Princess — 64 days Rome/San Francisco)
• First wedding chapel and wedding program at sea
• Santa Clarita, California customer service center opens
• Princess Cays expanded
1999
• Island Princess sold
• Company web site debuts
2000
• P&O Princess International demerged from P&O
• Ocean Princess joins fleet
• Sky Princess transferred to P&O Australia becoming Pacific Sky
• First Bermuda cruises (program ran 2000-02)
• Fleet transferred to British/Bermuda registry
2001
• Personal Choice Dining debuts on Grand Princess
• Golden Princess joins fleet
• Princess headquarters moves to Santa Clarita, California
• Use of shore power debuts in Juneau
2002
• Star Princess joins fleet
• Original Pacific Princess sold
• Tahitian Princess joins fleet
• Crown Princess transferred to A’ROSA becoming A’ROSA Blu
• Ocean Princess transferred to P&O Cruises becoming Oceana
• Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge opened
2003
• P&O Princess International acquired by Carnival Corporation
• Coral Princess joins fleet
• New Pacific Princess joins fleet
• New Island Princess joins fleet
• Sea Princess transferred to P&O Cruises becoming Adonia
• First Antarctica cruise
2004
• Cunard Line integrated into Princess operations
• Diamond Princess joins fleet
• Caribbean Princess joins fleet
• Sapphire Princess joins fleet
• First Movies Under the Stars screen debuts
• First Caribbean sailings from Galveston, Texas
2005
• Royal Princess transferred to P&O Cruises becoming Artemis
• Sea Princess returns to Princess fleet
• Princess Cruises celebrates 40th anniversary
2006
• Crown Princess joins fleet
• First Sanctuary debuts
2007
• Emerald Princess joins fleet
• New Royal Princess joins fleet
• First Chef’s Table debuts
• Regal Princess transferred to P&O Australia becoming Pacific Dawn
2008
• Ruby Princess joins fleet
• Ultimate Ship Tour debuts
2009
• Shore power begins in Vancouver
• Tahitian Princess renamed Ocean Princess
• Royal Princess transferred to P&O Cruises to sail as Adonia
2010
• Digital travel documents debut
• Bon Voyage Experience program begins
• eZAir program debuts
• Shore Power begins in San Francisco
2011
• Gavin MacLeod 80th birthday party on Golden Princess
• Most significant drydock transformation – Grand Princess
• Princess launches first blog – “50 Essential Experiences”
2012
• “Inspired to Cruise” blog debuts
• First Entertainer of the Year competition held onboard
2013
• “Linked by the Sea” blog debuts
• Japan-based cruising begins
• New Royal Princess joins fleet (christened by The Duchess of Cambridge)
• First “Cruising with a Cause” cruise to support U.S. veterans charities
2014
• New Regal Princess joins fleet
2015
• Princess Cruises celebrates 50th anniversary

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