SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – Princess Cruises has reinvented a great ocean liner tradition.
The program is a new twist on the departure celebration of bygone days, when friends and family would routinely come aboard to see off passengers. Because of increasingly tighter security, the old idea disappeared, but it’s now back – complete with lunch in the dining room and tour of the ship.
Princess Cruises is debuting new program to let friends and family board ships during the “bon voyage” process. This is great for both Princess, passengers, future passengers and cruise terminals. It’s called the Bon Voyage Experience. The cost is $39 per person; the genius of the program is that the price can be applied toward a future Princess cruise.
The tradition goes WAY back for Princess, which was a spin-off of P&O, the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company. The company may well have invented it. P&O ships had major goodbye traditions at their terminal in Southampton. Back in they day, the departures were for long trips to places like India, but as cruising took over, the tradition came to be used for week-long cruises. Yours truly remembers a very wonderful P&O departure from Southampton, England on the S.S. Orsova back in the early 1970s. Our friends the Charters came on board and saw the cabins, and the crew gave out paper streamers to throw.
In New York, the tradition was ingrained. Folks were used to coming on board early and having a drink in the room.
It solves a number of issues, and if it works even partially, look for others to copy it. It will:
- Get folks to the ship early, to alleviate crowding at departure time. In addition, it alleviates parking problems, as more people are dropped off at terminals, and don’t need a parking spot all week.
- Help to wring more income out of ships, keeping restaurants and gift shops busy.
- Bring more revenue to cruise terminals through parking and concessions. This is especially useful for terminals in areas that are close to tourist or shopping districts.
- Be a heck of alot of fun for all concerned.
Passengers can invite their guests to join them onboard the day of sailing. The visit is a four-course dining room lunch with wine, a ship tour and even a souvenir photo. Passengers and their guests can enjoy priority embarkation and will be able to spend approximately four hours together on the ship before it sets sail.
Until Princess did this, many people thought the tradition was dead. This is a typical situation when traditions die. They died for a valid reason, but no one figured out an easy way to get around the death. This was similar to the Today Show, when the studio moved from Rockefeller Plaza to the third floor, away from the fish bowl. Fans still missed the fish bowl, but NBC said it was too difficult to revive the tradition, citing security. Once they realized a new way to do it, they brought the tradition back.
Editor’s Note: In case you are wondering why there is a clip of The Love Boat, I just thought it would be fun.