CRUISE SHIP CENTRAL
CRUISE SHIP PROFILES
PRINCESS CRUISES PAGE
CARIBBEAN PRINCESS PROFILE
CROWN PRINCESS PROFILE
DAWN PRINCESS PROFILE
EMERALD PRINCESS PROFILE
GRAND PRINCESS PROFILE
ISLAND PRINCESS PROFILE
OCEAN PRINCESS PROFILE
RUBY PRINCESS PROFILE
SEA PRINCESS PROFILE
GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES
Captain Carlo Servillo and Hotel General Manager
Arturo Carlise discuss Ocean Princess
Richard H. Wagner
Many people when they think of Princess Cruises, think of its nine Grand class ships or the line's new 141,000 gross ton Royal Princess. These are large sumptuously decorated ships with numerous features and attractions. Although they carry thousands of passengers, these ships strive to give meaning to the line's slogan “the consummate host.”
But the large ships are not all there is to Princess Cruises. The line also operates two small ships, Ocean Princess and Pacific Princess. I sat down with Captain Carlo Servillo and Hotel General Manager Arturo Carlise of Ocean Princess to find out how these small ships fit into a line dominated by large cruise ships.
At the outset, it must be emphasized that Ocean Princess and her sister are very much Princess ships. “The main philosophy remains the same on all the ships. In substance, our system is based on 'we never say no.' We always try and find a way. Our philosophy is that everything is dedicated to the passenger,” explained Mr. Calise.
However, Captain Servillo pointed out: “We [i.e. Princess] already deliver an outstanding product but onboard of the small ships, this outstanding product is even better.”
The size of the ship creates an intimate atmosphere. “This special product is a beautiful life that [the guests] find onboard these small ships. We become a big family,” the Captain continued. “Once aboard, it takes only a few minutes to realize that [you] are onboard the right ship. Onboard of the big ships, the passenger can see the captain probably once during all the entire cruise [Here,] we see one another many times during the day. We know the names. The feeling is so beautiful.”
“Normally our itineraries are very long so [passengers] may be onboard for four or five weeks, even more. And that helps passengers and crew become a big family.”
Mr. Carlise added: “In a smaller environment, the shy people will have a greater chance to meet others. You also feel more protected. Everything is taken care of for you. You go to eat, you go to bed, you chat. It is like a mother's womb - - come aboard and we will take good care of you.“
“Another advantage of the small ships is the food,” the Captain observed. “To cook for 700 people is different than to cook for four thousand people. To cook for two is much easier than to cook for 200.”
Mr.Carlise agreed. “You get the same pasta dish and you eat it in a little trattoria and you eat it in a big restaurant, in the little trattoria, it has a different taste. It may be the exact same thing but here they are more motivated because the reaction to the food is more immediate.”
Along the same lines, because the ship is smaller and has fewer passengers, there are few lines and waiting times are short. “After five minutes if you have to wait for a tender, you are aboard the tender.” Captain Servillo noted. Similarly, when the ship docks, “shortly after arrival, we land the gangway, two minutes and you are already ashore on the pier.”
Ocean Princess does not do the same itinerary week after week. Instead, she travels the world, even more so than her larger fleetmates. Within the course of a year, she will be in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Asia and the South Pacific. She visits popular ports as well as to smaller ports that are off the beaten track.
“Another advantage of the small ships is that we can call at ports where big ships don't fit. Some beautiful ports – Milford Haven [Wales], Waterford [Ireland]. These are ports of call that cannot be used by big ships,” the Captain commented.
“Kotor in Montenegro. If you go there you feel like you are in Norway because of the huge mountains and the fjord. At the end of the fjord, there is the port, which is a small one used by mega-yachts. We can go there.”
“We were a few hundred miles away from the North Pole. We went to Spitzbergen. There is a small pier there. We made it thanks to the size of the ship.”
Of course, in order to roam the world, Ocean Princess has to traverse all types of seas. “The ship was built to face any kind of rough sea. Even if we experience a storm, the ship is 100 percent safe. When the sea is stormy in a very rough sea, the size of the ship doesn't make any difference. Sometimes it is more comfortable onboard of a small ship than onboard of a big ship. We never have had problems during a storm.”
“It is more challenging, of course, to have different itineraries. With standard itineraries, you can standardize your job and everything onboard. To be more challenged [however] is a boast for us to strive to give the best of ourselves. It makes life onboard more challenging but more interesting. Everyone, passengers and crew are motivated. We are the Explorer class ships. The word by itself - - explore - - makes everyone aboard excited. We call in Guam, then after that Pango Pango. Like the explorers, we drop the anchor or we just fit along side. This is the difference between [doing] different itineraries and [doing] standard itineraries like seven day or ten day Caribbean cruises.”
Ocean Princess is one of eight, essentially identical ships, that were originally built for Renaissance Cruises. After Renaissance went bankrupt, the eight ships became dispersed over several cruise lines, with Princess currently owning two of them. Interestingly, none of the new owners has changed the ships very much, leaving the layout, the cabins and décor pretty much the same. While some of the lines market their ships as luxury cruise ships, Princess does not. Ocean Princess and Pacific Princess are Princess ships just like the rest of the fleet.
“I think Princess is right in the middle of the market and is pretty consistent with that,” noted Mr. Carlise. Having big ships and small ships allows Princess to cater to different tastes. Some people like the variety and number of features found on big ships while others want the elegance and intimacy of a small ship. However, there are not two Princesses, one mass market and one luxury. The overarching product remains the same throughout the fleet. “We are like black holes. We want all the light from everywhere. We don't care if you are rich or poor, we want you onboard and we want to take care of you. We want to make sure that you have a good time.“
Cruise ship interview - - Princess Cruises - - Ocean Princess - - Captain and Hotel General Manager