by Rebecca Rachel Wong
Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess docked in several Southeast Asian ports together.
A historical first for Princess Cruises in Southeast Asia, two of its ships rendezvoused in three Southeast Asian ports on the same day.
Both Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess are sailing around the region for the Singapore homeporting season. The sister ships first met on 14 January 2019 in Phu My (Ho Chi Minh City), then Laem Chabang (Bangkok) on 16 January and Koh Samui the next day. The ships then finally greeted each other in Singapore on 19 January, where over 5,000 guests disembarked at Marina Bay Cruise Centre.
The rendezvous at each of these ports was meet with excitement from both of the ship’s onboard guests, some of whom posted on social media as the ships sound their horns at each other when passing by.
Sapphire is set to continue sailing in the region until March, after which she will embark on a 37-night Indian Ocean and Europe Grand Adventure Cruise. Diamond will undergo a dry dock in Singapore until early February 2019.
In another first for the cruise liner in the region, both ships were commandeered by two brothers. Captain Paolo Ravera was at the helm of Sapphire Princess – and his older brother Captain Stefano Ravera on Diamond Princess – when both ships docked in Laem Chabang and Phu My.
Born in a small town in Italy, the brothers come from a seafaring family − their father was a ship’s captain as well.
Currently out at sea on Sapphire Princess, Captain Paolo started his career in the Italian Navy, then commercial cargo shipping before moving into passenger and expedition cruising. He has been with Princess Cruises since 2003.
“For me, I enjoy the journey at sea as passengers can explore the most amazing parts of the world”, he said. “To quote Christopher Columbus, ‘You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore’”.
The dual-ship homeporting is also a pivotal moment for Princess Cruises, as it marks its fifth year sailing out of Singapore and carrying over 200,000 guests during this time, noted Farriek Tawfik, Director, Southeast Asia.
“Princess Cruises also contributed economic benefit from each homeporting season estimated to be about S$250 million in the region over the last five years. We certainly look forward to sailing in the region for many years to come,” he added.
Mr Tawfik also noted the popularity of Diamond Princess’ sold-out Singapore to Yokohama cruise, citing it as a rare opportunity for guests to explore seven destination in 12 days, from a port close to home. The itinerary includes Phu My, Nha Trang, Hong Kong, Taipei, Osaka, and Shimizu (Mount Fuji). Diamond will arriving in Yokohama on Valentine’s Day, 14 February, and commence a year-long sailing out of Yokohama and Kobe, featuring 60 departures on 40 unique itineraries.