Princess Cruises was formed in 1965 by a Seattle industrialist named Stanley McDonald. In this year, he chartered the 1949-built Princess Patricia from the Canadian Pacific Railway, and, although this Princess-name was a real Canadian Pacific naming-strategy, used the name of this vessel for his new company that he thus named Princess Cruises. A few years earlier, McDonald had aquired the Yarmouth, built in 1927, from Yarmouth Steamship Company. With this ship, he offered a cruise to the Seattle World Fair in 1962. This cruise was the reason that the businessman ventured into cruising later on, founding a company that has been very important to cruise-history since it's humble beginnings. Princess Cruises started cruising around Mexico with Princess Patricia and this was so succesfull that the next year, the ship was again chartered. In 1967, a larger ship was chartered under the marketing name of Princess Italia. This ship had been built as the Italia in 1965 and sailed for Crociere de Oltremare, an Italian based company. In 1968, Princess Cruises also chartered another ship so they were a two-ship operation for the first time. This year, the Princess Carla joined the company, again under charter. This time, she came from Costa Crociere of Genoa, Italy and she was sailing as their Carla C.. The first ship that sailed for Princess Cruises for a longer time was the Island Venture, that was chartered from Flagship Cruises. This ship was later bought by Princess Cruises and sailed for the company untill 1999.
In 1974, Princess Cruises was bought by the Peninsular & Oriental Steam & Navigation Company of London. After the decline of the liner-trade, that had been the pinnacle for P&O since their foundation in the mid 19th century, the company knew that cruising would be a good alternative. They started building out the Princess brand and transferred some ships from their own fleet. The company bought the Sea Venture, the sister of the Island Venture, and this ship was renamed Pacific Princess. In the 1970's, the company started working together with a television company for the series The Love Boat and their popularity exploded. At first, Princess Cruises was not so sure about the series, because with a name like 'The Love Boat', it could be that people could get a wrong idea about their ships. They firstly thought that the show was going to be very sexually orientated, but as we all knowm, this was hardly the case. So Princess Cruises stepped in and it kinda brought them where they are now. It is sometimes not only sex that sells... In 1984, Princess Cruises added their first megaliner, based on the design of the Island Venture and Sea Venture. This ship of course was the first Royal Princess. This ship was followed by the aquisition of Sitmar Cruises in 1989, and with this transaction some of the largest ships in the world were added to the Princess fleet. After this, Princess Cruises became one of the most important players in the cruising world, where the mothercompany P&O only had the posession of two ships under the P&O Cruises brand.
In the 1990's, Princess Cruises added the Sun class, at that time the largest cruiseships in the world and the first ships to exceed Norwegian Cruise Lines Norway of 76.000 tons. This was followed by the Grand-class. Again, these ships were the largest cruiseships ever constructed at almost 110.000 tons. They just followed in the wake of the Carnival Destiny, the first cruiseship to be measured above 100.000 tons that was introduced in 1996. A carefull explanation of all sorts of Grand-class vessels is to be found at the page of the lead ship of the class, Grand Princess.
P&O Princess has now one of the largest and well-known fleets in the cruise-industry and continues to expand. In the next few pages, some of their ships are feautured, as well as some more of their history. Next to the ships feaututred here, there are still some other ships that sailed for Princess in the past at this website.
Royal Princess (I) (1984-2005) is now placed with Phoenix Reisen as Artania
Star Princess (I) (1989-1997) is placed as Arcadia (III) under P&O Cruises
Golden Princess (I) (1993-1996) is placed as Boudicca under Fred. Olsen Lines
Ocean Princess (II) (2000-2002) is placed as Oceana under P&O Cruises