The Star will offer its 2,600 passengers all the latest amenities, including a wedding cam, whereby the bride and groom can transmit their vows over the Internet.
The Star Princess, the latest ship ever built for Princess Cruises' Alaska tours, is headed to Southeast next year.
At 109,000 tons and 950 feet long, the Star is the same size as two sister ships, the Golden and Grand, which don't sail to Alaska. It is shorter than the Infinity, but wider and taller, with a height of 186 feet, said Kirby Day, Princess spokesman in Juneau.
It will replace a smaller ship and return Princess' carrying capacity to its high of 2000, Day said.
"In terms of numbers of people, Princess had six ships and brought about 190,000 people to Alaska in 2000. In 2001, we have five ships and will bring 175,000 passengers. The Regal Princess will be taken out of the Alaska market in 2002, but the Star will be added in, so we will have 190,000 passengers again," Day said.
Princess Tours' President Charlie Bail called the Star Princess "the newest, biggest, most flexible product out there."
The Star will offer its 2,600 passengers all the latest amenities, including a wedding cam, whereby the bride and groom can transmit their vows over the Internet to friends and family who couldn't join them in the ship's wedding chapel.
Another high-tech feature will be the new AOL Internet Cafe, which provides 25 computers 24 hours a day.
"People can't put down their e-mail today. Even on vacation, they want to check," Day said. "It's a very popular feature that has come about by a partnership with AOL."
For those who enjoy dancing, the Skywalkers Night Club hangs over the aft of the ship. During the day, it's an observation lounge, "perfect for Southeast's inland passages," Day said. There will also be three main dining rooms and a 24-hour buffet and bistro, Day said.
For camera buffs, there will be a digital camera shop where passengers can have photos of their cruise transferred to calendars or given amusing backdrops.
A new telemedicine center will be on board where live voice, data and images can be transferred digitally to shore in cases of medical emergency.
The Star is under construction at the Fincanteri ship yard at Mon Falcone, Italy. It should be completed next February, and then will be assigned to Mexican Riviera cruises out of Los Angeles for about two months.
It should arrive in Alaska in May 2002, Day said, and will have a Vancouver-to-Seward gulf itinerary in the summer.
The Star and other Princess vessels will be linking up to a new Princess destination, the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Wrangell is the largest U.S. national park, containing four of the 10 tallest peaks in North America. A wilderness lodge there, Princess' fifth in Alaska, will open next May. Princess passengers can reach the Wrangell lodge via motorcoach from Seward, Fairbanks or Anchorage.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at email@example.com.