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.