P&O Princess Cruises announced the acquisition of the former Renaissance vessels, R3 and R4, which will join its North American and Australian fleets. The 684 lower berth vessels, which originally entered service in 1999, will be acquired through a lease purchase structure at a total combined capital cost for the two ships of approximately $150 million. Under the terms of the acquisition contracts, the two vessels are contracted to be deployed in the Pacific Ocean region for at least the first two years of their operation by P&O Princess. R4, which will be renamed Tahitian Princess, is expected to continue to be deployed in French Polynesia
for a further three years.
The ships have a similar design to the other vessels in the P&O Princess fleet with over two thirds of the cabins on each ship having balconies, and with the ships incorporating a wide variety of dining alternatives. The P&O Princess fleet will continue to include a choice of small, medium-sized and large vessels appealing to the full range of consumer tastes in the countries where the Group operates.
Tahitian Princess will sail year round in French Polynesia, as part of our Princess Cruises fleet, offering new itineraries to our North American customers. Her homeport will be Papeete, Tahiti.
R3 will be renamed Pacific Princess and will operate on a split deployment divided between Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises
in Australia. For the six months of the year that she is part of the Princess fleet, she will offer itineraries throughout the Pacific region and French Polynesia. For the other half of the year the ship's homeport will be Sydney and she will offer premium cruises to Australians under the P&O Cruises Australia brand to French New Caledonia and elsewhere in the South Pacific.
With the addition of the Pacific Princess to the contemporary product delivered by the Pacific Sky, P&O Cruises in Australia will increase its capacity by 30 percent and provide products designed to appeal to the full range of Australian consumer tastes.
Peter Ratcliffe, Chief Executive of P&O Princess Cruises commented
"Our strong global reach and our increasingly modern fleet gives us the flexibility to deploy our ships strategically. Operating one ship for half the year under our Princess brand and for the other half of the year under our P&O Cruises Australia brand enables us to operate in the peak summer period year round, selling across the northern and the southern hemispheres.
These two small ships, acquired at a very effective capital cost, are ideal for Princess' destination trades and will complement our modern fleet of larger vessels. The new ships will deliver Princess' signature product of "personal choice cruising", with a range of dining options and the high proportion of balcony cabins that our customers have come to expect.