Princess Cruises chief hails UK agents and explains ship delivery delays

Princess Cruises president John Padgett has described travel agents as “incredibly important” for the brand as it seeks further growth in the UK market.

Padgett also explained the rationale behind delays in the delivery of new ship Sun Princess and a subsequent decision to push back delivery of the line’s next vessel, Star Princess, insisting decisions on cancellations were “not taken carelessly”.

Speaking to Travel Weekly from Barcelona before the naming ceremony of Sun Princess, he said the line prides itself on its “great relationships” with the trade.

He added: “We love our travel agents and I hope they all see how focused the Princess brand is at making sure we service our travel agents and service their clients with the top form they expect from us.”

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Padgett, Princess president since October 2021, described Sun Princess, the line’s first Sphere-class ship, as “absolutely stunning” and revealed the reception from passengers and agents had been “exceptionally positive”.

Last week it was announced that the delivery of Star Princess would be pushed back from July 2025 to September 2025. The launch of Sun Princess was also delayed.

Padgett said: “We had to cancel two cruises on Sun Princess and when we have to do that, it’s not done carelessly.

“It’s because the most important thing is that we sail a great ship that’s safe and has a great experience, so if we can’t do those two things, we’re going to cancel that cruise.”

On the adjustment to Star Princess’s delivery schedule, he added: “We wanted to de-risk that situation, provide a little bit more time for Star and make sure she comes out of the shipyard fantastic.”

Asked to outline Princess’ unique selling point, Padgett said: “Princess is the only cruise line in the world that can give big ship choice and small ship personalisation.”

He said the Middle East conflict had caused minimal disruption for the cruise line, with two itineraries being redesigned.

“There’s been no material impact on our demand at all,” he added.

Overall, Padgett said Princess had been registering “great” occupancy rates and record-breaking customer feedback scores.

“The UK market is incredibly important for Princess,” he added. “We have heritage in the UK – our brand is loved by the UK audience, not just for the sailings around the British Isles, but also in the Caribbean and around the world, including Alaska, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.”

He suggested the outlook for the brand was “great”, including in the UK.

“I don’t think there’s any limit to the scale of the UK market,” Padgett said, adding: “UK travel agents and their clients are incredibly important to us and we hope we are the best cruise partner.”

The ‘Princess Plus’ package – covering drinks, internet and gratuities – was designed with UK passengers in mind, according to Padgett.

“It’s about making sure there’s a cruise product that specifically represents and values what the UK audience has, not just trying to import a cruise experience that’s really specialised for another part of the world,” he added.

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