Sapphire Princess

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Sapphire Princess02.JPG
Sapphire Princess at Ketchikan, Alaska
Name: Sapphire Princess
Owner: Carnival Corporation & plc
Operator: Princess Cruises
Port of registry:

2004-2014 Bermuda Hamilton, Bermuda

2014-present United Kingdom London, England
Route: Asia
Builder: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Cost: US $400 million
Christened: June 10, 2004 in Seattle
Completed: 2004
Status: In service
General characteristics
Type: Gem-class Cruise ship
Tonnage: 115,875 GT
Length: 290 m (950 ft)
Beam: 37 m (121 ft)
Decks: 13
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Capacity: 2,670 passengers
Crew: 1,100

Sapphire Princess is a cruise ship owned by Princess Cruises that entered service in 2004 as the twin sister ship of Diamond Princess. At the time she was one of the world's largest cruise ships, with a capacity of 2,670 passengers [1] and is the sixth Gem-class ship built by Princess Cruises. Sapphire Princess was christened on June 10, 2004 in Seattle—the first cruise ship ever to be christened in that port.[2]

Design and construction[edit]

Sapphire Princess was built in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the second Princess Cruises ship to be built in a Japanese shipyard. Her only sister ship is Diamond Princess, with whom she swapped names during construction.

The name swap occurred because a major fire swept through the original Diamond Princess (presently sailing as today's Sapphire Princess) during construction, leading to a construction delay.[3] Both sister ships were being constructed at the same time, so the original Sapphire assumed the role of Diamond. This name swap assisted in keeping the delivery date of Diamond Princess on time, and kept Sapphire Princess on schedule as it was nearing completion early.[4] Sapphire Princess was the second Princess Cruises ship to be built in a Japanese shipyard. Despite being technically similar to her Grand-class sister ships, she lacks the "wing" across the rear and above the stern that housed the Skywalkers Nightclub, which can be seen on the Golden Princess, Star Princess, and Caribbean Princess.


Her diesel-electric plant includes four diesel generators and a gas turbine generator. The diesel generators are Wärtsilä 46 series common rail engines, two of the straight 9-cylinder configuration, and two of the straight 8-cylinder configuration. The 8- and 9-cylinder engines can produce approximately 8​12 and 9​12 MW of power respectively. These engines are fueled with heavy fuel oil (HFO or bunker c) and Marine Gas Oil (MGO) depending on the local regulations regarding emissions, as MGO produces much lower emissions but is much more expensive. The gas turbine generator is a GE 2500, producing a peak of 25 MW of power and being fueled by MGO. This generator is much more expensive to run than the diesel generators, and is used mostly in areas, such as Alaska, where the emissions regulations are strict. It is also used when top speed is required to make it to a port in a short time period. There are two propulsion electric motors which drive fixed-pitch propellers and six thrusters used during maneuvering; three bow and three stern. The propulsion electric motors (PEMs), are conventional synchronous motors made by Alstom Motors, driven by synchroconverters made by Alstom Power Conversion (now GE Power Conversion). The two motors are each rated to 20 MW and have a maximum speed of 154 rpm. (Rated speed of 0-145 rpm.)[5]

Areas of operation[edit]

Sapphire Princess previously sailed on the west coast of the United States but in 2014 the ship undertook Asian cruises from Shanghai in the summer months and in the winter cruises out of Singapore.[6] After her Singapore season concluded in 2016, the ship will sailed from China year-round until 2017. The winter sailings from Singapore resumed during the 2017-18 season.[6]

On 28 March 2018 she re-positioned to Southampton UK with a 38-day cruise where she was based until 21 October 2018 when she returned to Singapore with another 38 day cruise. Sapphire Princess will again in 2019 reposition to Southampton for the northern summer before returning to Singapore later in 2019. She will be homeported in Singapore for 2020.[7] Following her summer season in Asia, Sapphire Princess will be based in Melbourne in October 2020 for Australia and New Zealand sailings.[8]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

Whale strikes[edit]

On two occasions, whales have been found dead on the bulbous bow of Sapphire Princess, a year apart from each other. On July 25, 2009 the ship docked at Canada Place Terminal, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with a dead fin whale lodged on its bow.[9] The estimated 21.3 m (70 ft) whale was found on top of the bulbous bow.[10] Preliminary reports from the Fisheries and Oceans necropsy suggest the whale might have been sick.[11]

On July 28, 2010, Sapphire Princess had a whale stuck on the bow of the ship.[12] The estimated 12.2 m (40 ft) humpback whale became entangled on the ships bulbous bow while Sapphire Princess was sailing from Ketchikan to Juneau.[13]

Prior to the first incident with the Sapphire Princess, the last time that an Alaskan cruise ship docked in Vancouver with a whale on its bow was in 1999, when a dead 20-metre (66 ft) fin whale was found on MV Galaxy.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Sapphire Princess Joins Seattle Cruise Ship Market". Port of Seattle. Archived from the original on April 5, 2009.
  3. ^ "MHI Fire incident report". 2002-10-04. Archived from the original on 2011-05-14. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
  4. ^ "Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Cruise Ship "Sapphire Princess" To Be Delivered to Princess Cruises" (Press release). Hideo Ikuno, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. May 26, 2004. Archived from the original on 18 March 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  5. ^ "Sapphire Princess - Cruise Ship". 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Cruise Search Results: Princess Cruises:". Princess Cruise Lines. 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  7. ^ Staff, CIN (2018-03-28). "New Look Sapphire Princess Sails for Europe". Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  8. ^ Staff, C. I. N. (2019-06-18). "Sapphire Princess Extends Season, Adds Shanghai Program for 2020". Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  9. ^ The Associated Press (26 July 2009). "Dead Whale Gets Stuck in Cruise Ship Bow". Fox News. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  10. ^ Staff writers (26 July 2009). "Whale wedged on cruise ship bow". BBC News. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  11. ^ "Necropsy reveals impaled whale may have been sick". The Vancouver Sun. July 27, 2009. Archived from the original on 31 July 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  12. ^ James Halpin (July 29, 2010). "Whale found stuck on bow of cruise ship near Juneau". The Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  13. ^ Greg Dragonetti (7 August 2010). "Whale Meets Ship With Unfortunate End". CruiseInd. Retrieved 29 April 2012.

External links[edit]