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Sky Princess (II)

Background

At the 12th of may in 2020, the second Sky Princess passed Hoek van Holland on her way to North Sea anchorage after visiting Rotterdam to bring back crewmembers of the Holland America Group due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The disease had brought the whole cruise industry to a standstill.

In march of 2015, Carnival Corporation ordered two additional cruiseships within the Royal-class of ships for Princess Cruises. They followed the namegiver Royal Princess (2013) and Regal Princess (2014) who had been ordered in early 2010, the Britannia for P&O Cruises that had been ordered in 2011 and started her services in 2015 and the Majestic Princess, that had been ordered in 2014 and entered her service in 2017 and which was specially designed for the Chinese market. The name for the fifth ship in the class was announced in november 2017 as Sky Princess and her newer sister was to be named Enchanted Princess. The seventh and last member of the class was ordered in january of 2017 for service to start in 2022 and her name was later announced as Discovery Princess.With tonnage measurements between 142.000 and 145.000, these ships were the largest ever to be ordered for Princess Cruises and a follow-up to the Grand-class of ships, that were slowly replaced from Princess Cruises into P&O Australia around 2020.

In was the second time the company used the name Sky Princess and the 2019-ship honoured the first Sky Princess, a ship that was built in 1984 for Sitmar Cruises as Fairsky. In 1988, after Sitmar was bought by P&O, the ship was placed into the Princess Cruises fleet and she sailed for them under the Sky Princess name untill her transfer to P&O Australia in the year 2000. The ship, being the last cruiseship sailing under steam propulsion, was scrapped in Turkey in 2013. 

Construction and general statistics

The first steel for the new ship was cut on the 9th of november in 2016 at the Fincantieri Yards in Castellamare di Stabia in Italy. This piece of steel was going to be incorporated into the ships' bowsection. As the ship was going to be built at another wharf, the Fincantieri Yards at Monfalcone near Venice, another first steelcutting for the rest of the ship was done at the 8th of september in 2017. The bowsection was later transferred over to the Monfalcone wharf to speed up the building process. The so-named keel-laying ceremony was held on the 5th of july in 2018, although this is not the traditional start of construction anymore as you can see within the dateline. It more or less now is the date of the placement of the first buildingblock of a new ship into the dry buildingdock. On the 14th of february in 2019, the ship finally floated out of her buildingdock and was moored at the wharf for completion.

The ship measures some 145.281 tons, having a lenght of 330 meters, a width of 38,4 meters and a draft of 8,50 meters. With her measurement, she is larger then her earlier sisters and was the largest cruiseship within the Princess Cruises fleet when she started her services. There are 19 decks of which 15 are accessible for the passengers and she can be sailing with up to 3660 passengers maximum and a crewcount of 1346. Her yardnumber for Fincantieri was 6268. The four engines are designed by Wärtsilä and give the ship a normal service speed of 22,5 knots. Her bowthrusters are powerfull enough to push the ship from the quay at a speed equal to the forwards sailingspeed of the first cruiseships within the Princess Cruises fleet. Sky Princess flies the flag of Bermuda, a British crown colony, and is homeported in Hamilton.

Design

Passing the Stena Line terminal and Stena Britannica at Hoek van Holland.

The ships design is very similar to that of her earlier three sisters Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess. She has a traditional diningroom, next to many other eateries like the Italian Princess-favorite Sabatini's, the Salty Dog Gastropub, Sterling Stakehouse, a Crown Grill and the Kai Sushi bar to name but a few. Also, there is a new French Bistro named Sur La Mer in the Piazza area. For entertainment, there is the large Princess Theater, a casino and the Vista Lounge, next to the 300 square feet Movies Under The Stars outdoors poolside movietheater. In the main Princess theater, broadway-style shows are performed like the specially created Rock Opera and The Voice Of The Ocean. Within the ships Atrium, one of the largest atriums ever to go to sea, so-called street artists perform regularly, there are live music bands throughout the ship next to comedy shows and deck discoparties.

For more relaxation, the ship also offers the Sanctuary and Lotus Spa area's, offering state of the art equipment with oceanviews. Also Zumbaclasses, Yoga sessions and Tai Chi can be attended during a cruise.

A cool feature aboard is still also the Sea Walk, which is an extension out of the superstructure with a glass floor, so not for the faint-hearted, to see the ship from a very unusual angle during sailing. To create more space for the central pooldeck however, the Sea Walk on Sky Princess is scaled down from earlier ships. 

Although the ship is very similar to her earlier sisters, there are a few things that set her apart. For one, she has the biggest suites ever to be built onto a Princess Cruises ship. The so-named Sky Suites measure some 1800 square feet each (of which around 800 square feet is reserved for outside balconies) and were designed for up to five people. Also, the space on the ships topdeck is redesigned. Instead of one large pool, there are two smaller ones on Sky Princess, but they provide more poolspace in general. Also there is one extra hottub. On the aft of deck 16 there is also a totally new pool with the name Wake View, creating another place for passengers to get away from the main pooldeck and so spreading out the number of passengers to give a feeling of more space outside. Inside, they also created the first escaperoom ever to go to sea as an extra entertainment possibility.

Overall, the decor keeps to the Princess style so not overdone and quite classy. Colours used are mainly neutral creams, browns and blues mixed with little hints of yellow and orange. On this ship you will not be overwhelmed by many colours, keeping the decor down to earth.

Carreer

On the 15th of october 2019, after succesfull seatrials in the Adriatic Sea which she had completed in september of that year, the second Sky Princess was delivered to Carnival Corporation in a ceremony at the wharf in Monfalcone. She then headed for Triest from where she undertook her fist 'shakedown' press-cruise to Athens with an axtra call in Kotor. From Athens, she then started her official Maiden Voyage with paying passengers to Barcelona and afterwards settled in for a first half-season in the Mediterranean Sea. She arrived at her North American homeport Port Everglades at the following 1st of december, from where she then undertook two short cruises to Princess Cays, the companies private island departing on the 2nd and 4th of december from Port Everglades.

On the 7th of december. the ship was officially named by NASA astronaut and US Navy Captain Kay Hire and NASA engineer Frances 'Poppy' Northcutt. They were chosen as Godmothers as a tribute to pioneering women in the US space-program. During the ceremony, the ships' Captain Heikki Laakkonen also honoured two female officers from the ship itself, Second Officer Kerry-Ann Wright and Chief Security Officer Susan Morgan, who is the largest serving woman in the British Royal Navy. The ceremony was co-hosted by Love Boat acress Jill Whelan and the ships' Cruise Director Alexander Yepremian. A performance was there of Dream On by Brian Justin Crum (America's Got Talent) and it was concluded by a performance of This Is Me, an outtake from the new productionshow Rock Opera which was to be performed aboard Sky Princess during her first season.

The ship then settled in for her first season in the Caribbean, afterwards it was planned to have her sail Baltic Cruises in the summer followed by a season in Canada and new England in the fall of 2020.

But all went differently, as the world saw a huge pandemic outbreak of the so-named COVID-19 disease, originating from China but spreading rapidly through the rest of the world in the spring of 2020. In march, two of the companies ships, Grand Princess and Diamond Princess were seeing severe outbreaks of the disease aboard and it quickly was announced that the whole of the cruise-industry was shutting down. Onboard Diamond Princess, 712 persons were infected of whom sadly 14 died due to the fact that the ship wasn't allowed to dock anywhere and medical supplies were only limited. On Grand Princess, 21 people were diagnosed with the diseased and eventually, two of them had also died. Every single cruiseship was pulled into port and cruises suspended for an unknown period of time worldwide.

Sky Princess was docked in Port Everglades on march 14th, making one trip to Fort Lauderdale and then arriving back to Port Everglades on april the 23rd. She then departed to bring back crewmembers of the Holland America Group to Europe, a few days after her sister Regal Princess also undertook that same trip. She arrived at the port of Rotterdam on may 11th, delayed by a huge storm that prevented her from entering port earlier. After she had disembarked the European crew, she then sailed for anchorage close to Rotterdam at the North Sea where she dropped anchor on may 12th, awaiting future announcements.   

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