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Royal Princess keel laying marks construction milestone

An significant construction milestone occurred Thursday when the keel for the new Royal Princess was laid in the building dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. As the keel -- the bottom most part of the ship – was ceremoniously lowered into position, Princess Cruises and shipyard officials marked the occasion with a celebration and countdown to the ship’s debut in spring 2013.

Following a traditional blessing by a priest, the ship’s keel - which weighs approximately 500 tons - was moved into position by a huge crane onto the keel blocks. The computer-guided maneuver took only minutes, belying the more than 2 million man hours that will ultimately go into building the vessel.

The 3,600-passenger, 141,000-ton ship will remain in the building dock until its float-out. Royal Princess will launch in spring 2013.

"It’s always very exciting to mark this step in a ship’s construction, when several of the pre-built sections come together to form a new addition to our fleet, especially with a prototype design," said Alan Buckelew, president and CEO of Princess Cruises who traveled to Italy for the ceremony. He explained that Royal Princess’ evolutionary design will feature some exciting new elements and expanded spaces, while featuring the classic profile and features passengers have come to associate with Princess.

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri said "The keel laying in the building dock marks a fundamental step in the construction of “Royal Princess”, an innovative prototype ship for one of the most prestigious brands of Carnival Corporation, the world cruise leader, for which Fincantieri built many vessels in the past.We are particularly proud and strongly believe that Fincantieri will build the most beautiful ship in the world."

One of the most dramatic new design elements of Royal Princess is an over-water SeaWalk – a glass-bottomed enclosed walkway extending more than 20 feet beyond the edge of the vessel. From here passengers will enjoy dramatic views off the side of the ship and to the sea below. On the ship’s opposite side, an over-water SeaView bar will also extend over the waves to provide cocktails and unbeatable vistas.

On her top decks, Royal Princess will feature a new adults-only pool surrounded by seven plush private cabanas that appear to be floating on the water Two additional pools will flank a tropical island that will offer pool seating by day, and by night will become an outdoor dance club, complete with a dazzling water and light show. Princess’ signature adults-only haven, The Sanctuary, will be expanded both in size and amenities. The popular poolside theater, Movies Under the Stars, will play a starring role mid-ship with an expanded size and high-definition viewing.

Royal Princess will feature an expanded version of the company’s signature Piazza – the ship’s central atrium incorporating a myriad of dining, entertainment and retail experiences. And each of the vessel’s outside cabins will include a balcony, meaning 80 percent of all staterooms will offer this popular feature. Additional details about the ship will be released over the coming months, and a video preview of Royal Princess is available athttp://www.princess.com/learn/ships/rp/index.html