Princess Cruises began operation in 1965 with just one chartered ship. Sometime around June, 2014, Regal Princess will begin operation and the Princess fleet will grow to 18 ships. The ships can be sorted into five different classes. All were built specifically for the cruise line, with exception to the R Class. R Class ships originally were built for Renaissance Cruises before that cruise line ceased operations and their fleet was dispersed.
The oldest vessels currently in the Princess fleet, there are three ships in the Sun Class. Between 1995 and 1998 Sun Princess, Dawn Princess and Sea Princess were put in service. All three were built by Fincantieri in Italy and are roughly of the same dimensions and capacities.
The Sun Class ships are smaller by today’s standards with a gross tonnage of 77,500. The ships are generally around 875 feet in length with eleven decks accessible to the close to 2,000 guests. 900 crew members are required to make these boats run smooth.
Princess obtained two R Class ships from the defunct Renaissance and renamed them Ocean and Pacific. Each was built in 1999 by Chantiers de L’Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France. Ocean and Pacific are the ‘small ships’ of the fleet with a gross tonnage of just 30,277. Because of that, they are reserved for longer, more exotic cruises to ports not easily accessible by the larger ships on the high seas today.
Each of the R Class ships is 595 feet in length and has nine decks accessible to passengers. Capacity on board is for 688 guests. With 373 crew members, the ratio of guests to crew puts these boats up with some of the most luxurious on the market. Ocean Princess began service with her new company in 2002 while Pacific followed the next year.
The largest and most popular group of ships in the fleet is the Grand Class. There are nine ships under this classification, built between 1998 and 2008. The Grand is the oldest, put in service in 1998 and Ruby Princess is the baby, entering the game in 2008. All were built by Fincantieri and have a gross tonnage in the 110,000 to 115,000 range.
Each of the Grand Class ships is over 950 feet in length. The number of passenger accessible decks ranges from 13 to 15 and guest capacity ranges from 2,500 to over 3,000. Each carries between 1,100 and 1,200 crew members. Besides the Grand and Ruby, there is also the Golden, Star, Diamond, Sapphire, Caribbean, Crown and Emerald.
The Coral Class is made up of just two ships that are considered Panamax and specifically built to transit the Panama Canal. Coral Princess was put in service in 2002 and Island Princess followed in 2003. Both were built at Chantiers de l’Atlantique.
Built long but not as wide as other ships, the Coral Class are of decent size with a gross tonnage of just under 92,000. At 965 feet long, the two ships were the longest in the Fleet until Royal entered service in 2013. Each has 12 decks accessible to passengers with a guest capacity of nearly 2,000 and a crew of 900.
The latest and greatest in the fleet, Royal Princess entered service in 2013 and is by far the largest ship of the bunch. Built by Fincantieri, Royal has a gross tonnage of 141,000 and is 1,083 feet in length. There are 15 decks accessible to the capacity 3,560 passengers.
Following in the summer of 2014 will be Regal Princess. Regal will be mostly identical to Royal in every dimension.