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: 116,000 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. She is 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]

Currently, Sapphire Princess is sailing Asian cruises from Shanghai year-round until the arrival of the Majestic Princess in 2017. After the arrival, it will resume sailing from China in the summer months, then from November through February, sailing roundtrip Asia cruises out of Singapore.[3]


Sapphire Princess is technically a sister ship to Grand Princess, but has several differences. The most notable of these is that the Skywalkers Nightclub suspended across her stern was moved to the back of the funnel, which opens up the terrace pool area. Sapphire takes personal choice dining another step further by splitting the two anytime dining rooms of its older sisters into four, each of which has its own theme and specialty dish. Another dramatic alteration is the repositioning of the Internet Café to the Promenade Deck adjacent to Sabatini's. This moves the Wheelhouse Bar farther to the front of the ship, in place of the Crown Grill. She is otherwise nearly identical to her older sisters.


Sapphire Princess leaving the port of Los Angeles.

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, with whom she swapped names, Diamond Princess 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.[4] 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.[5] Sapphire Princess was the second Princess Cruises ship to be built in a Japanese shipyard, and lacks the "wing" or spoiler across the rear which can be seen on Golden Princess.

2012 Refit[edit]

At the beginning of 2012 Sapphire Princess was refitted with Princess' signature "Piazza" in place of the center atrium, including the International Café and a pizzeria. Princess also added the "Movies Under the Stars" poolside theatre to the top deck and a new adults' retreat, The Sanctuary.[6] The refit brings Sapphire Princess in alignment with the newer features from Grand Princess and others in the Grand Fleet.[7]


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 812 and 912 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 Alston Motors. The two motors are each rated to 20 MW and have a maximum speed of 154 rpm. (Rated speed of 0-145 rpm.)[8]

Ports of call[edit]

Sapphire Princess previously alternating Northbound & Southbound Voyage of the Glacier cruises during the summer and in the winter sails Mexico, Hawaii & California Coastal cruises. Beginning in 2014, the ship has been sailing roundtrip Asia cruises from Shanghai in the summer months, then from November through February, the ship sails roundtrip Asia cruises out of Singapore.[3] After her Singapore season concludes in 2016, the ship will be sailing from China year-round until 2017 until the arrival of the Majestic Princess. The winter sailings from Singapore will be replaced by the Diamond Princess, but will resume these sailings during the 2017-18 season as the Diamond Princess will be returning to Australian waters once again during the 2017-18 northern hemisphere winter season.

Rescheduled sailings[edit]

In April 2014, Sapphire Princess was supposed to return to Alaska, but those plans were cancelled and will sail Asian cruises instead. Most of the ship's Hawaii cruises for 2014 were cancelled, and from the beginning of that year, which Princess kept it running on more short cruises to the West Coast round-trip Los Angeles, as well as a 10-day cruise that departed March 1, 2014. On April 3, 2014, the Sapphire Princess sailed a 25-day repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Osaka, which it stopped at Honolulu, Guam, Keelung, Okinawa, Shanghai, Kagoshima and concludes in Osaka.

On April 5, 2014, her previously scheduled cruises at that time was replaced by Crown Princess after its arrival in Los Angeles.

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]

The last time, before Sapphire Princess, 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.


In August 2014 a passenger drowned in one of the ship's swimming pools.[14] Emergency response was delayed as the result of language issues within the crew.[14]


Sapphire Princess in the Port of Kobe, Japan
Sapphire Princess in the Ports of Auckland, New Zealand
Sapphire Princess and Golden Princess at Skagway, Alaska 
Sapphire Princess at Skagway, Alaska 
Sapphire Princess at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 
Sapphire Princess at Ports of Hakata, Japan


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Sapphire Princess Joins Seattle Cruise Ship Market". Port of Seattle. Archived from the original on April 5, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Cruise Search Results: Princess Cruises:". Princess Cruise Lines. 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "MHI Fire incident report". 2002-10-04. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  5. ^ "Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Cruise Ship "Sapphire Princess" To Be Delivered to Princess Cruises" (Press release). Hideo Ikuno, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. May 26, 2004. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Sapphire Princess Begins Service After Extensive Makeover 2/6/2012 News Article. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  7. ^ "Movies Under the Stars" to Make A Splash Across Princess Fleet; Popular Poolside Theater to Be Added to Additional Ships] 11/5/2008". Princess Cruises. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "Sapphire Princess - Cruise Ship". 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  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. 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. 
  14. ^ a b "Drowning in swimming pool on the passenger cruise ship Sapphire Princess with loss of 1 life". Marine Accident Investigation Branch. 21 August 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 

External links[edit]