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Royal Princess Sets Sail

Kate Princess shipSlate gray clouds hovered above Southampton, England, on June 13, 2013, and cold winds whipped around the docks. Dour weather, though, didn’t dampen the spirits of the more than 2,000 people gathered for the naming of Princess CruisesRoyal Princess. Kate Middleton, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, arrived wearing a black-and-white dress and black straw hat. When she stepped to the podium, the sun broke through the pewter-colored sky and lit her face for a brief moment.

“I name this ship Royal Princess. May God bless her and all who sail in her,” she said, and cut the rope attached to a Nebuchadnezzar-size bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne. The bottle crashed against the ship’s hull, and a snowfall of blue and white confetti descended on the cheering crowd.

The ceremony marked the debut of the 141,000-ton, 3,560-passenger vessel, the line’s first new ship since 2006 and first in a new class of the largest vessels Princess has built. “We wanted a ship that would represent Princess consistency,” Executive Vice President of Fleet Operations Rai Caluori had said at a press conference before the naming. “Feedback from past passengers indicated they wanted that. But we’ve also added new features we think our passengers will love.”

Elizabeth was on hand for the naming and then departed on a two-night round-trip cruise. While aboard, she interviewed Rai Caluori, who revealed some innovative features, such as a Dancing Fountains sound-and-light spectacular; Princess Live, a TV studio that presents shows before a live audience and broadcasts them into the cabins; an electronic Art& Architecture tour; SeaWalk, a Plexiglas-bottomed walkway that curves 28 feet out from the ship’s starboard side on Deck 16; and the most innovative, user-friendly, on-demand in-cabin television programming system at sea.

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