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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
• Company founder Stanley B. McDonald charters Princess Patricia and forms Princess Cruises — first winter season of Mexico cruises starts in November
• Princess Patricia returned to owners
• Princess Italia chartered (one of first modern ships built specifically for cruising)
• First Panama Canal cruises (company pioneered regularly scheduled Canal cruises)
• 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)
• Stanley McDonald repurchases Princess from Boise Cascade
• Princess Carla returned to owners
• Island Princess joins fleet (formerly Island Venture)
• Princess Tours founded
• Princess Italia returned to owners
• 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)
• “The Love Boat” TV series developed by producer Aaron Spelling; Princess agrees to become backdrop for the show
• “The Love Boat” begins filming
• Princess Tours acquires Johansen Royal Tours
• Stanley McDonald departs company
• Princess begins calling at first private Caribbean island, Palm Island in Grenadines
• Royal Princess joins fleet (innovative ship features all outside cabins)
• Pacific Princess launches company’s first Mediterranean season
• First major cruise line to base a ship in San Diego (Pacific Princess to Mexico)
• 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
• Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge opens
• First Caribbean cruises from Miami
• First Asia cruises (Royal Princess)
• First Northern Europe (Baltic) cruises
• 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
• Star Princess joins fleet
• Crown Princess joins fleet
• Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge opens
• Captain’s Circle loyalty program begins
• Regal Princess joins fleet
• Sea Princess transferred to P&O as Victoria
• New private island launched (Princess Cays in Eleuthera)
• Golden Princess chartered (formerly Royal Viking Sky)
• Dawn Princess sold
• Fairbanks Princess Hotel opens
• Sun Princess joins fleet (debuts largest number of balcony cabins)
• First 24-hour café debuts
• Fair Princess transferred to P&O Australia
• Golden Princess returned to owner
• C.R.U.I.S.E. customer service program debuts
• Dawn Princess joins fleet
• Star Princess transferred to P&O becoming Arcadia
• Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge opens
• 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
• Island Princess sold
• Company web site debuts
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• Royal Princess transferred to P&O Cruises becoming Artemis
• Sea Princess returns to Princess fleet
• Princess Cruises celebrates 40th anniversary
• Crown Princess joins fleet
• First Sanctuary debuts
• Emerald Princess joins fleet
• New Royal Princess joins fleet
• First Chef’s Table debuts
• Regal Princess transferred to P&O Australia becoming Pacific Dawn
• Ruby Princess joins fleet
• Ultimate Ship Tour debuts
• Shore power begins in Vancouver
• Tahitian Princess renamed Ocean Princess
• Royal Princess transferred to P&O Cruises to sail as Adonia
• Digital travel documents debut
• Bon Voyage Experience program begins
• eZAir program debuts
• Shore Power begins in San Francisco
• Gavin MacLeod 80th birthday party on Golden Princess
• Most significant drydock transformation – Grand Princess
• Princess launches first blog – “50 Essential Experiences”
• “Inspired to Cruise” blog debuts
• First Entertainer of the Year competition held onboard
• “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
• New Regal Princess joins fleet
• Princess Cruises celebrates 50th anniversary