Every month we’ll take a cruise line and look at the history, the fleet and its people to find out what really makes its cruises worthwhile. This month, we’re taking a peek behind the scenes at Princess Cruises, a cruise which has gained an enviable reputation for custom-designed cruise holidays.

Sailing to more than 330 destinations around the world, Princess Cruises has made an impressive name for itself in the cruising business in a relatively short time. Since its early beginnings nearly 5 decades ago, the North American company has gone from strength to strength, amassing a fleet of 17 ships and priding itself on giving customers the chance to tailor their cruising experience down to the last detail. So just what marks out Princess Cruises in the cruise industry, in terms of luxury, service and choice?

The origins of Princess cruises

Stanley B. McDonald founded Princess Cruises back in 1965, when he chartered the ship Princess Patricia for leisure cruising and decided to keep the name ‘Princess’ for the company itself. The ship’s first ever voyage departed for Mexico in the November of that year. Two years later, the Princess Italia became one of the first modern cruise ships which was purpose built for the industry, and the company began sailing in earnest along the East and West coasts of the USA, including the length of the historic Panama Canal.

Bringing cruising to the modern holidaymaker

Princess Cruises has evolved over the past five decades and many companies have influenced the brand as it is today. The cruise line was purchased by US company Boise Cascade in 1968, the same year the Princess Italia departed on her maiden voyages across the Atlantic and to Alaska. Princess Cruises became part of the British P&O Cruises family in 1974, later becoming part of the P&O Princess Cruises offshoot between 2000 and 2003 and is now operated by Carnival Plc.

The brand was at one time best-known for providing the backdrop to 1970s TV series The Love Boat, produced by Aaron Spelling. As such, Princess Cruises is often credited with bringing cruising to a whole new generation of holidaymakers. Though the romantic image of The Love Boat may seem somewhat dated to cruise-goers today(!), Princess has managed to reinvent itself continually over the years and is now associated more with personal-level service and varied destinations.

Sailing around the world on board an ocean Princess

Princess has become known for offering widely different destinations, from the cool beauty of Alaska to the far-flung shores of Australia and New Zealand and the culture-rich cities of Europe. In recent years, the cruise line has branched out into rare cruising territory, with trips to the likes of Tokyo, Bali and African voyages around Cape Town and Dakar.

While some smaller ships in their fleet – such as the Pacific Princess – are aimed more specifically at older travellers, with their longer holidays and unusual port stops, others in the newly-appointed Royal Class, such as last year’s Royal Princess, offer space for up to 3600 passengers and feature brand new modifications like the amazing glass walkway known as the SeaWalk. But what sets apart the Princess experience is the level of attention to detail involved in their packages.

Whether you want to take a stroll in an Italian-style Piazza, watch a film while taking a dip in the pool or sit down to eat at 3 o clock in the afternoon, Princess Cruises’ flexible options like Anytime Dining have proved popular with travellers of all ages. In fact, it’s this emphasis on individual choice that has bridged the generation gap and made Princess Cruises the go-to cruise line for family groups, young couples and elderly singles alike.

So if you fancy finding out what makes Princess Cruises such an all-round hit with the cruising community, why not check out their selection of 2014 and 2015 cruise holidays for yourself?

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