Mireya Moscoso, president of the Republic of Panama, will christen Princess Cruises’ newest ship, Coral Princess, in a historic ceremony in the Panama Canal.
The first cruise ship christening ever in the Canal, this unique “lockside” naming will take place as Coral Princess transits the Canal’s Gatun Locks on January 17, 2003. The ship will be in the Canal as part of it regular cruise itinerary, on a sailing that departs from Ft. Lauderdale on January 13.
“In our 32 years of Panama Canal cruising, we’ve established a strong and beneficial relationship with Panama, so we feel President Moscoso is the perfect person to christen this ship, which was built specifically for Canal transits,” said Phil Kleweno, president of Princess Cruises. “As we offer more Panama Canal sailings than any other line and even plan to double our number of Canal cruises next year, we are delighted to have President Moscoso become the ‘godmother’ of Coral Princess and to host the first naming ceremony in the Canal.”
Panama’s first female head of state, President Moscoso took office in September 1999 and has since become a popular leader who has worked to strengthen her country’s social and educational programs
. Shortly after her election, she experienced her first Canal transit aboard another Princess ship, Sun Princess.
The selection of President Moscoso to christen Coral Princess follows P&O Princess’ long history of selecting illustrious women to become the “godmothers” of its new ships, including Queen Elizabeth of England, Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher, among others.
“Passengers aboard that sailing are certainly in for a special treat,” noted Kleweno. “We’ve never before christened a ship while it was in transit, so the passengers have a unique opportunity to become part of this historic event.” The naming ceremony will also be broadcast over the ship’s onboard television system.
The event will take place while the ship is in the Panama Canal’s Gatun Locks, one of three sets of locks that make up this engineering marvel, which took more than 30 years to build and was completed in 1914. The Gatun Locks are made up of a series of three locks which connect the Caribbean with the massive Gatun Lake in the middle in the Canal. The Canal’s locks lift and lower ships a total of 170 feet as they move over the Panama isthmus – a 51-mile transit in total.
Coral Princess’ inaugural season begins December 14 and will consist of a series of roundtrip Panama Canal sailings roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale. Passengers will enjoy calls at the ports of Limón in Costa Rica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Princess’ private island Princess Cays, as well as the Panama Canal transit and cruising of the Canal’s Gatun Lake.
The 88,000-ton Coral Princess was designed to provide passengers the many amenities of the line’s larger vessels on a ship built for Panama Canal transits. Coral Princess’ 1,970 passengers will enjoy a variety of Personal Choice Cruising options, including multiple dining and entertainment venues. The ship features three distinctive show lounges, including the two-story interactive Universe Lounge equipped to offer full television production capabilities and high-definition projection. The ship’s Personal Choice Dining lineup is comprised of two main dining rooms, the popular Sabatini’s Italian trattoria and the new Bayou Café, the first New Orleans-style restaurant at sea. Other new features include Churchill Lounge, a cigar lounge with its own humidor, and Crooners, a 1960s-era martini bar – both firsts for Princess. The ship also continues Princess’ emphasis on affordable balconies, as 83 percent of all outside staterooms feature a private veranda.