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Travel agents can anticipate a new product to sell next year. Beginning in May 2013, Princess Cruises will place the newly renovated Royal Princess in San Francisco, where she will be based year round. The Grand Princess will offer a series of Alaska cruises during the summer months from the City by the Bay, followed by sailings to the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico and the California Coast during the fall 2013 and spring 2014 season.
“Princess has been cruising from San Francisco nearly as long as the company has been in operation, so we have a rich history with the city, and we are the leading cruise line homeporting there,” said Jan Swartz, Princess’ executive vice president. “Our Bay Area passengers and travel agents have long been asking for more cruise options from San Francisco, and our new year-round schedule with Grand Princess will now give them a great selection of itinerary choices, plus the benefit of sailing on a ship that offers our signature features and amenities.”
Last year the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess underwent the most extensive drydock in Princess’ history, adding a range of new features that enable passengers to enjoy the same kind of onboard experience offered by the line’s other newer ships.
During the drydock, Grand Princess added a variety of passenger amenities, such as a completely new Piazza atrium, and several new dining options, including Alfredo’s Pizzeria and the Crown Grill. The most unusual addition is the line’s first specialty tea lounge and library, called Leaves, offering a choice of up to 500 different tea blends presided over by a trained tea sommelier. Also included in the renovation were a remodeled casino, boutiques and an art gallery; enhancements to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa and wedding chapel; and the addition of Crooner’s Martini Lounge and a new nightclub, The One5, inspired by its location on the top deck of the ship, where it replaces the familiar Skywalker Nightclub.
The atrium space of Grand Princess has been completely rebuilt, combining a selection of quick bites, beverages, shopping and guest services. The new Vines wine bar has more than 30 wines by the glass, plus a selection of tapas and sushi as well as a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottles.
During the 2013-14 season, Grand Princess will offer a range of roundtrip sailings from San Francisco, starting with an Alaska season that includes 10-day Inside Passage cruises featuring Glacier Bay National Park or Tracy Arm, with calls at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria. Departures begin on May 10, 2013.
A set of 12 cruises to the Hawaiian Islands starts on Oct. 4, 2013, with the last departure on April 28, 2014. The 15-day sailings give passengers a chance to explore each of the main Hawaiian Islands, with calls in the Big Island (Hilo), Oahu (Honolulu), Kauai (Nawiliwili) and Maui (Lahaina).
On Sept. 17, 2013, and March 5, 2014, Grand Princess will sail a new 10-day itinerary to Mexico that includes two ports new to Princess — Loreto and La Paz, both in Baja California. The ship will also visit Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.
An increasingly popular Princess itinerary is the California Coastal route, and Grand Princess will sail this itinerary and call in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles (Long Beach), San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico. Four seven-day sailings will be offered on Sept. 27 and Oct. 19, 2013, along with March 15 and April 6, 2014.
“We are delighted to have our first year-round ship based in San Francisco, and it is a natural fit that the vessel is the caliber of Grand Princess,” said Monique Moyer, executive director of the Port of San Francisco. “Having this ship sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and berth at the foot of Coit Tower will be spectacular, both for the passengers on board and the people of San Francisco.”