Royal Princess (III) Media Event - 8th May 2014
Princess Cruises in the UK were hosting a media event on the Royal Princess on the 8th May 2014 during the call en route to Copenhagen.  I was invited by Olivia Braddick as a blogger.  I had been on the ship before, having sailed the maiden voyage from Southampton to Barcelona, but hadn't enjoyed it due to my bad back.  Things seemed to be on the mend so this gave me another, albeit brief, opportunity to experience the ship again.  As well as media, several travel agents were invited including Flavia Gray, who I knew from Twitter.  I was tour group one and when the small group was called, our guide was Rachel Vane, who started working on Princess ships and now is in the office.  The first stop was Club 6 for a champagne reception, but you could have tea, coffee or orange juice instead.

Then it was time to move to Princess Live for Paul Ludlow, Managing Director UK & Europe, to make his announcement at 11am.  Rather than some sort of deployment or newbuild, as the usual press conferences went, this was announcing Royal Princess would be the star of a documentary series on British television channel, ITV1.  The press release, issued at noon, was as follows:

Princess Cruises documentary to air on ITV over summer

A four-part documentary set on board a Princess Cruises ship will broadcast weekly on ITV this summer. Entitled ‘The Cruise Ship’, it will show unprecedented behind-the-scenes footage of crew and passengers on Royal Princess, a 3,600-passenger ship that was launched last year by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.

The documentary will give an insight into what life is really like on board for the 1,600 crew members and how they work together to give guests a first-class customer service. From preparing a glittering welcome on board party to cooking a barbeque for all guests on Princess Cruises’ private Bahamas island, the programme offers a bird’s eye view of the ship as it sails through the Caribbean.

John Thompson, star of Cold Feet and The Fast Show, provides the voiceover and the show was produced by acclaimed UK production company Pulse Films.

Overseeing guest hospitality is Dirk Brand, hotel general manager. Dirk, a German native who has over 15 years’ cruise experience, is on hand to deal with all manner of challenges, including ensuring every one of the 1,800 cabins is spotlessly clean, making sure all 70,000 dishes that are washed daily meet his high standards and even carrying out a secret undercover ‘mission’ to check on his team.

Paul Ludlow, Princess Cruises' managing director UK and Europe, said: "We are thrilled the crew on Royal Princess will star in this major series. We’re positive the show will strike a chord with everyone who enjoys travelling with us and also open up the appeal of cruising to a whole new generation of holidaymakers.

“Even our most travelled guests will be amazed at just how much hard work goes into making sure our ships run smoothly. We’re so proud of everything Princess Cruises has to offer and can’t wait for television viewers to see this for themselves.”

Join the conversation on Twitter via #thecruiseship.

The date and time of the first episode will be confirmed shortly.

Sue Hawker-Thomas was on hand to tell us what it was like being onboard during the eight weeks they filmed before the floor was opened to questions.  Due to copyright, no images or footage of the show is allowed to be posted.  We headed to the Crown Grill for lunch afterwards, where Carnival UK CEO, David Dingle, was waiting.  The last time I'd seen him was when the Rotterdam made her maiden call in 2011 and he gave a speech in the terminal after representatives of all Carnival brands had arrived.  Once we had all eaten, he gave a speech about the forthcoming programme as well as plans for 2015 including Britannia arriving for P&O, Royal returning for the summer and Cunard's 175th anniversary.

Once lunch was over, those who were staying until 4pm would be getting a tour of the ship.  Our group joined with that of Matt Lebbern's.  Thankfully by now it had stopped raining, although the decks had a few puddles.  Having already spent a week onboard, everything was already familiar.  I had done the SeaWalk during my cruise but missed the one the other side by the bar entirely, so this was remedied by asking Matt if we could go there.  Despite my fear of heights, once you have been on there, it becomes much easier.  Tthe portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge had been moved to the opposite wall while items from the naming ceremony now adorned the original space.  There wasn't enough time to see mch of the ship unfortunately, though we did get into a couple of cabins.  A refreshment break with alcohol or soft drinks and I finally got to chat to Flavia Gray of Go Cruise as well as get that photo with Shane Riley of Princess, since we'd known each other on Twitter several years so met at last.  Those still attending were then treated to a visit to the bridge, which also has the bell from the original Royal Princess (latterley Artemis for P&O and currently Artania for Phoenix Reisen).  It had been presented to her Captain, Nick Nash, once the ship left the Princess fleet, as it had been used as a christening bowl for his daughter Victoria in 1996, and her name is engraved inside.  She served as Madrina at that ceremony.  I had to go and a few others came with me.  Matt led us to the crew exit on deck 5.  Once we had returned our passes, we were given a goody bag containing a robe, chocolates, 1/4 bottle of Moët & Chandon and a press pack about the ship.
Thanks to Olivia Braddick for the invitation.  As mentioned above, I had been in pain with my back last year so didn't enjoy it.  This time I did and look forward to watching The Cruise Ship when it's broadcast.  For more information about public rooms and facilities on the Royal Princess, the review of my cruise is here.


© Patricia Dempsey 8th May 2014
Not to be reproduced without permission