Trouble---For Princess using Royal Class ships in Southeast Alaska

This issue is receiving quite a bit of publicity up here. The Royal Princess is scheduled for Alaskan service this summer. The Marine pilots in Southeast Alaska are questioning the ability of this vessel to maintain direction under beam wind conditions of 25 knots or more. The Royal has been in service throughout the world now for 6 years. We have been on the Royal and Regal for a total of about two months. The Majestic Princess has now joined her sisters.

It never occurred to me that this class was deficient in this regard. At first I disputed the pilot’s contention. But now that I have looked further into it, I am skeptical as to whether or not Princess went too far on the cheap with power, rudder design, under powered thrusters and fixed pitch screws. Experts disagree that pod propulsion would have been better as the pilots contend and I can see the pilot’s error in that regard. However, Princess better start talking and supporting their position. Or go back to their proven vessels in Alaska waters.

Tags: Alaska - Inside Passage

22 Answers

Good morning, I am gong on my first cruise on May 18 to Alaska on the Royal Princess. Should I be concerned by this news that I am reading? I must admit it doesn't make sense to me but I know nothing about this type of travel. Princess has not notified us of any concerns or issues and I am now concerned. Thank you in advance We are cruising south from Whitter to Vancouver. Pat Hobbs

KENN...this makes me want to go back to that old axiom, "follow the money", mixed in with a more prosaic "who benefits"? They can't "fix" the ships to the Pilots satisfaction, so what do the Pilots get out of it? This is already personal, and ugly. And I can't even begin to guess a timelime. For the Pilots to somehow back off, it means that a professional organization did a "oh my the sky is falling" which turns out to be just this side of untrue. For ANY cruise line to admit there's something wrong with a whole class of ships that have been in use all over for years is..well..I don't know the words. But then, think BOEING...Occasionally I watch shows on TV about the TITANIC,,the hearings were clearly a whitewash, and the dispute amongst professionals still rages over why it sank. I like the bunker fire on steel theory myself, but only because its just so darn interesting. Point is, sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. The determining factor is who is actually empowered to bring this to a conclusion, and when. and why do I think this will wind up in a FEDERAL COURT..God knows when.

Whats a poor cruiser to do? PADRAIGAIN askes the obvious and overriding question. I wish I had an answer based on actual facts instead of suppostion and cynicism. Its just a tad more important than getting one's money's worth out of a drink package methinks..

And PADRAIGAIN..if it was me yes I'd be concerned. I know that's not what you want to hear, but its just my opinion only. You'll NEVER get anything out of a cruise line over something like this, although I can't remember ANY cruise line being involved in this kind of a dispute. It'll be solved at paygrades so high we'd need oxygen just to listen. KENN?

Yes, I agree Yankee. Frankly I'm in a quandary here. I have the advantage of reading detailed exchanges between a retired Master (Captain) and a retired Chief Engineer regarding this situation. Both are pretty knowledgeable and articulate very well. I'm a long time Princess faithful so I lean toward giving them the benefit of doubt. However, being in the airplane game all my life and still having my skin intact after thousands of hours of pilot in command, I owe most of that to never taking anything for granted or relying on assumptions, instincts tell me the marine pilots might have a point or two.

Poor Pat, already booked and reading all this diatribe, probably enough to scare her out of her wits. Pat, if I were in your shoes I would stay the course. First off, the vessel is absolutely safe, no concern there whatsoever. A lot safer than driving on our roads in the U.S.A. Worst case scenario would be having to bypass a port or two. More than likely this will be smooth sailing for you and after disembarkation, you are going to ask what all the commotion was about. We have sailed on both the Royal and its sister the Regal for over two months total. No problems, even in a storm on the North Atlantic off Greenland in October where the wind was on our beam and plastering heavy rain on the balcony window.

However, back to Yankee and the technical details. Unless I learn more, it is beginning to appear that Princess went overly cheap on systems that would give the Royal Class more power, differential thrust and steering effectives and efficiency. What I'm unable to understand is why hasn't these deficiencies, if there are any, manifested before now? After all, with over half a dozen years of experience one would expect any significant problems to have surfaced earlier.

It is also apparent to me that part of the problem is the super arrogance in the upper echelon of both parties. Perhaps there is less of a real issue than might appear and that any navigational shortcomings can be made up for at the next dry dock. For instance, the addition of Becker Rudders and controllable pitch propellers. In the meantime, after wiser heads prevail, the vessels can go ahead and operate in Alaska, encountering only minor delays from time to time over and above that which other more proven Princess ships would likely experience.

@padragain Did you cruise on May 18? How did it go? We are on the same itinerary June 15. I've read a couple reviews elsewhere and nobody has mentioned missing a port yet.

Well...Im not PADRAGAIN...but...if ANY cruise ports were missed anywhere because of work stoppages or union disputes or ANY reason, real or imagined, (not counting ooogly weather or a revolucion) would be headline news all clearly everyone has lawyered up and are discussing it over high tea heheheheh...not that I want anyone to ever have a cruise screwed up because of something like this, but it was just so darn interesting...

Interesting reading. A wealth of knowledge.

Without going into great detail it does look like things are on the up and up now and the Royal is worth booking. Not completely out of the woods but on the cruises so far things are not as bad as first feared. All those ships over 1000 feet long have to make special deals to go east of Vancouver Island with the B.C. authorities anyway. The Royal is the longest of the batch and it appears they got the first okay, just recently. As far as the Southeast marine pilots, it looks like only one problem area now and that is northbound to Ketchikan, they have to take a slightly longer route, but not on the southbound leg with a stop in Ketchikan. Enjoy.

why am I laffin my tail off??? and here I thought it was gonna be an epic confrontation...pffffft!!!! yeh by all means, go NAWTH and enjoy!!!

Wow, I didn't intend to be prophetic here when I said----- "If the Southeast Marine Pilots have ulterior motives here, a bias or reasons other than safety in order to distort the facts, then they better watch out as they will be playing hardball with some of the toughest and meanest executives on earth. If one has doubts, just read about the tenacity and years long efforts Micky Arison displayed back when he defeated RCCL and RCCL's back room orchestrated deal with P&O and Princess Cruise Line for a merger."

But in a way, perhaps I was. Hard to believe that in the last week or so Carnival Corp has walked away from the courts with no more than a "slap on the wrist" for pollution infractions since 1993. It was just weeks ago some were predicting that the "hanging judge" would actually put some of their executives in the "Graybar Hotel". Not to be, they cut a deal with prosecutors before the judge even got to talk. 20 million might seem to be a lot, but pocket change under the circumstances here.

But even before that took place, they apparently forced the marine pilots to their knees, with respect to the Royal Class ship accusations made by the pilots. Although, I'm not so certain the pilots were not floating a lot of phony baloney themselves in that dispute.

Maybe the old rule "Follow the Money" dominates the game once again.

What d'you mean "once again"? It has NEVER not dominated the explanations of whatever "game" is played......


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