From the west coast comes a spate of news from the Love Boat line itself (www.princess.com), encompassing 21st-century romance, 18th-century romance, oases of sybaritic pleasure, and one bit that has nothing to do with romance whatsoever.
Item 1: Princess Picks Finalists for "Greatest Romantic" Contest
On Valentine's Day, Princess announced its "Are You the Greatest Romantic?" contest, which sought video submissions from people who believed that they (or their friends) had the most romantic story going. Last week, the line's "Department of Romance" -- actor Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat's Captain Stubing), couples therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Alex Michel (the first Bachelor on the hit TV show), Trish McDermott (VP of love at Engage.com), and destination wedding expert and author Lisa Light -- picked their top five, which were then posted online at www.princess.com/romance, where the public can vote for their favorite. The winner will be announced on April 15, and will thereafter serve with the Department of Romance for one year; be featured on the company's website, offering romantic advice; and of course receive a free 7-night cruise for two to the Mexican Riviera or the Caribbean.Â One lucky person among those who cast online votes in the contest will also win a 7-night cruise.
And the nominees are:
- Phil Roberts, a minister from Lexington, KY, whose video "The Greatest Romantic???" features a poetry reading by his three-year-old daughter, explaining why her dad is the world's greatest romantic.
- Brian Krall of Manchester, New Hampshire, whose video "Everyday the Greatest Romantic" nominates his wife, Irene, who makes romance a part of their daily life.
- Lydia Kimball Gibbons of Orem, Utah,Â whose "40 Years of Romance" nominates her husband, Ted, who's written her love poems almost every day of their marriage.
- Kacey Evans of Ramsey, Minnesota, whose "Our Story - Ashley and Kacey Evans" pays tribute to his wife and best friend, Ashley.
- Justin D'Ambrosio of Jersey City, New Jersey, whose "Practice Makes Romance" details his pursuit and preparation for true love, leading up to his romance with his true love, Erin.
All five finalists will receive flowers and chocolate.
Item 2: Princess to Host First-Ever Live Opera Transmission at Sea
Opera is romance: big, loud, messy romance, the kind that often ends in tragedy. On Saturday, April 5, Princess will offer the first-ever satellite broadcast of an opera at sea, tuning in La BohÃ¨me from New York's Metropolitan Opera aboard all 16 of the line's ships. The opera, in all its bohemian glory, will be shown either in the theater or (aboard Crown, Emerald, Caribbean, and Grand Princess) on the line's 300-square-foot LED "Movies Under the Stars" screens, mounted by the pool on the ships' top decks.
"It's quite unusual to be able to sit by a pool in the Caribbean and watch a world-class opera live from New York," said Jan Swartz, Princess's senior vice president.Â "We're very excited to be breaking new ground with this first-ever live Metropolitan Opera broadcast at sea. It's a rare opportunity to present our passengers with such an enriching cultural experience included in their cruise."
"The Met: Live on the High Seas" is one of the eight Metropolitan Opera performances that are being transmitted live via satellite to movie theaters around the world (The Met: Live in HD).
Item 3: Princess Adds "Sanctuary" Adult Relaxation Areas Fleetwide
When Princess's Crown Princess and Emerald Princess debuted in 2006 and 2007, one of their most outstanding features was "The Sanctuary," a shaded, adults-only relaxation space located above the pool. Three-quarters canopied and dotted with lounge chairs, couples' loungers, trees, and private cabanas, it proved to be a perfect onboard chill-out space, with light meals, massages, and beverages available from your deck chair and "serenity stewards" tasked with making sure things stay quiet.
The idea proved such a hit that Princess is now renovating all of its existing ships to incorporate the feature. Sanctuaries will be added to Island Princess, Grand Princess, and Star Princess before the end of 2008, with the remaining vessels being retrofitted in 2009 and 2010.
"The Sanctuary has come to personify Princess's essential philosophy of escape coupled with personal service," said Jan Swartz, Princess's senior vice president.Â "Passengers have told us they love this opportunity to completely relax in such a peaceful and pampering environment, so we're delighted to introduce this special Princess feature on all our vessels."
Half-day passes for The Sanctuary cost $10 per person, for 8am to 12:30pm or 1pm to 5pm.
Item 4: Princess Renames Tahitian Princess
If you ever find yourself starting your own cruise line, take my advice: Avoid including anything geographical in your company or ship names. Past mistakes live with us still, or entailed messy confusion to change: Royal Caribbean is big in Alaska, Norwegian pushes its chilly name in Hawaii, and Alaska Sightseeing/Cruise West had to chop itself down to just "Cruise West" when it began pushing out of the 49th state.
In similar regard comes news that Princess's Tahitian Princess, a midsize vessel that has mostly sailed South Pacific itineraries since Princess acquired her from defunct Renaissance Cruises in 2002, will be renamed Ocean Princess in November 2009, reflecting her new worldwide deployment. The renaming will take place while the ship is out of service during a routine maintenance period in Singapore, after which she'll embark on a series of Asia voyages.
Sister-ship Pacific Princess, meanwhile, will begin providing cruises from Papeete, Tahiti, where the Tahitian Princess has been based.Talk with fellow Frommer's cruisers on our Cruise Message Boards.