Princess revives tradition of allowing friends and family on board for a ‘Bon Voyage’

Twenty-seven years ago my husband and I boarded the Queen Elizabeth 2 in New York in January for the first leg of its world cruise.

My brother happened to be in the city on business and he was able to come aboard the ship for a few hours to help us celebrate our “Bon Voyage.” It was fun and memorable and made the start of our honeymoon even happier.

When the cruise lines stopped the practice of allowing friends and family on board, for security reasons,  I thought it was a great loss to cruise tradition.

Thus, I was so pleased to see this announcement from Princess Cruises yesterday. They are reviving the practice of allowing friends and family aboard and even offering them a meal. To be sure, part of their motivation is marketing…they hope these visitors will become future customers…but I don’t care. I still think it is a great idea. They are charging for the experience, but this will help them organize the program.

Reviving a signature tradition from the early days of cruising, Princess Cruises is debuting an innovative, new program giving passengers the opportunity to invite their friends and family aboard their ship on embarkation day to wish them “bon voyage” and get a taste of the onboard experience.

Called the “Bon Voyage Experience,” 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 procedures, this practice disappeared more than two decades ago, but it’s now back – complete with lunch in the dining room and tour of the ship.

Unique in the cruise industry, the Bon Voyage Experience enables passengers to extend an invitation to their guests to join them onboard during sailing day for 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. The cost for the program is $39 per person, which can be applied toward a future Princess cruise.

The program will debut in March in the ports of Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, and then roll out to New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

“Long-time cruisers will recall the fun of the bon voyage send-off with their family and friends, and we’re excited to re-introduce a new, modern version of this experience,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president.

Cruise passengers will be notified about the program through the pre-cruise emails they receive from Princess as their cruise date approaches. In-port guests can be booked through a travel agent or by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, beginning 120 days before the cruise and up to six days before the sailing date. Once registered, guests will be able to input their required security information through the line’s Cruise Personalizer.

The number of guests who will be able to participate in the Bon Voyage Experience on any given embarkation day will be approximately 50.

The roll-out schedule for the launch of the Bon Voyage Experience is:

Sapphire Princess – March 6 in Los Angeles

Crown Princess – March 6 in Fort Lauderdale

Coral Princess – March 7 in Los Angeles

Emerald Princess – March 7 in Fort Lauderdale

Island Princess – March 10 in Los Angeles

Ruby Princess – March 10 in Fort Lauderdale

Golden Princess – March 14 in Los Angeles

Royal Princess – March 27 in Fort Lauderdale

Star Princess – April 10 in Fort Lauderdale

Caribbean Princess – May 18 in New York

Sea Princess – June 1 in San Francisco

During the Alaska season, Sapphire Princess, Golden Princess and Royal Princess will offer the program in Seattle, beginning in May.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, or by visiting the company’s website at www.princess.com.

About Cynthia Boal Janssens

Cynthia Boal Janssens is the editor and chief blogger for AllThingsCruise.com. She is a former national president of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). She has sailed on over 40 cruises all over the world.

7 Responses to Princess revives tradition of allowing friends and family on board for a ‘Bon Voyage’

  1. David Mather February 16, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    That is great except we in Australia get duded again by Princess this will not apply to the Sun and Dawn Princess we are Princess poor relations down under
    David

  2. John More February 17, 2010 at 3:53 am #

    Cudos to the Princess Lines, for reviving this P&O.S.N.C.
    (Peninsular & Oriental Steamship Navigation Company)
    tradition, and of which I was a part during the 1950’s & the 60’s.

    In so many ports of the World, as a Restaurant Head Waiter, I had the pleasure and honour of attending to both passengers & their family guests, aboard P&O Liners, during those times of farewell over a luncheon or dinner.

    The experience for the whole family was always a memorable occasion, but often, would also have been a sign of a painful separation, for some.

    The steamers, the bands, the waving of hands, from the last link, from the departing ship, are the moments so many will fondly remember.

    Traditions take time to become traditions, & to let them just go, so sad!

    If I could one day, go back to sea, to see this tradition
    replayed, I would cross the bar, a very happy camper!

  3. AAAAmerican.Com February 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    The tradition is again being done well by a sibling Cruise line firm of CCCL/CUK NYSE/LSE Carnival.

    They , Princess now part of Carnival, have had Embarkation Lunch too which is wonderful and should be a normalcy in the other cruise lines too. Princess is usually a few steps ahead and ranks with another great line of HAL ( Holland AMERICA Line )

  4. Genevieve Gittens February 19, 2010 at 4:16 am #

    This is great – and a great advert for the ship BUT why not the Caribbean also. We are sailing for the first time on a Princess next month to celebrate a BIG day in our lives and would love to be able to have some of our kids on board for a farewell lunch.

    • Cynthia February 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

      I believe they are rolling out the program a few ships at a time so they can work out any kinks with it.

  5. john meade February 19, 2010 at 6:02 am #

    Why is it so few sailings from NYCity. We have millions of people and yet so few trips leave from here. What does the limit of 50 visitorss mean. 50 total or 50 guests for each passenger?

    • Cynthia February 19, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

      I suspect the reason that there are so few sailing from NYC is the expense of docking at one of the world’s most expensive cities. Also, services at the pier for cruise ships is limited. Handling passengers flying in and out of NYC can be difficult, too.

      I sailed from NYC on my honeymoon 27 years ago on the first leg of the QE2’s world cruise.

      I believe that the 50 refers to 50 onboard guests only that day, not 50 per person.

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