Princess Cruises’ president has vowed to “always support” the UK with the “best” ships in the line’s fleet.
John Padgett told a Travel Weekly webcast that around 40% of the Princess’ passengers were from the UK in 2021.
The line last year based two Royal-class ships – Regal Princess and Sky Princess, which launched in late 2019 – in the UK as industry-wide operations slowly restarted during the pandemic.
Both vessels initially operated round-Britain cruises from Southampton.
Padgett said: “We’re always going to support the UK with great tonnage. You can tell by current deployments that we want our best of the best [in the UK].
“The Royal class in the UK market has been really strong.”
He said that the UK market was “huge” for the line and hailed the government, port authorities and travel agents in this country for their “instrumental” role in the industry’s restart.
But he stressed that “everyone wins” when cruise ships operate international sailings rather than just calling into domestic ports.
“There’s no doubt you want your ships visiting [foreign] destinations because that’s the beauty of cruise where everyone wins,” he explained.
“When you’re visiting destinations, the guest is winning, the local community is winning, and commerce is maximised.”
The UK domestic sailing programme last year was appreciated by Princess, but it wasn’t “an optimal model” for the line, Padgett added.
However, Princess will base three ships – including Sky Princess – in the UK this summer.
“I hope that shows how important the UK is,” he said, adding: “We put our great ships there.”
Asked about consumers’ perception of the Princess brand following the Covid outbreak on Diamond Princess in Yokohama in early 2020, Padgett said: “Over time people just realise that just happened to be a microcosm of what was happening in the rest of the world.”
He added that he believes the public have acknowledged the hard work Princess undertook at the time of the outbreak and subsequently.
“Princess is committed to doing the right thing, making things right with our guests, through all the changes, fits and starts of the cruise industry through Covid,” said Padgett.
“We’re coming back a stronger brand than ever before. We’re in great shape. We’re very proud of this brand. Honestly, there’s no holdover because we realise this was a universal challenge.”