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July 25, 2006

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7/24/2006 - Princess Cruises

A Letter to Our Passengers Regarding Crown Princess

Dear Passenger,

We at Princess Cruises would like to take the opportunity to comment about the incident of last week, when Crown Princess experienced a strong list following her departure from Port Canaveral, Florida. We express our sincerest apologies for this regrettable event, and fully understand that this was a distressing experience for all who were on board.

We especially extend our apologies to those passengers and crew who were injured. We are grateful that the injuries were not life-threatening, and also that those transferred to hospitals for evaluation and treatment have now been released with the exception of one passenger, for whom we wish a speedy and full recovery.

Following the incident, we immediately cooperated with representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the Bermuda flag authorities. Following an extensive assessment, Crown Princess departed New York last Saturday July 22 on a seven-day voyage, having received clearance to sail by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bermuda flag authorities.

We can appreciate there may be concern as to the cause of this incident, and questions about whether it could happen again. As you may be aware, there is an investigation into the incident being carried out by the U.S. authorities which has not yet been fully completed. It would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment in any detail before that investigation is complete and the results published.

However, we can confirm that the incident was due to human error and the appropriate personnel changes have been made.

We want to unequivocally emphasize that we would never operate an unsafe ship, nor would the U.S. Coast Guard allow a ship to sail that had any safety issues.

We want to assure passengers who may be booked on an upcoming sailing, or those who may be thinking about traveling with Princess, that the highest priority for our company is the safety and well-being of our passengers and crew.

Sincerely,

Alan Buckelew
President
Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises said that human error was responsible for the strong listing the Crown Princess experienced on July 18 following its departure from Port Canaveral, Fla. In a statement, Princess Cruises President Alan Buckelew said that it would be “inappropriate” to further comment on the cause of the incident while an investigation is underway.

“We can appreciate there may be concern as to the cause of this incident, and questions about whether it could happen again,” Buckelew said. “However, we can confirm that the incident was due to human error and the appropriate personnel changes have been made. We want to unequivocally emphasize that we would never operate an unsafe ship, nor would the U.S. Coast Guard allow a ship to sail that had any safety issues.”

Human error also was determined to have caused last February’s listing of another Grand-class ship, the Grand Princess, outside Galveston, Texas. In that incident, 27 people were injured when the ship tried to turn around and return to port after a passenger experienced cardiac arrest.

In last week’s incident 240 people were injured and 94 were hospitalized. Princess said that all but one has been released and that none of the injuries was life-threatening.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Bermuda authorities cleared the Crown Princess to depart New York July 22 on a revised, seven-day Caribbean sailing. Princess said it sailed with about 3,000 passengers.

NTSB Advisory
National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594
July 19, 2006

NTSB SENDS TEAM TO INVESTIGATE CRUISE SHIP STEERING INCIDENT

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a three-member team to Port Canaveral, Florida, joining representatives from the United States Coast Guard as the preliminary investigation into yesterday's steering incident involving the MS Crown Princess cruise ship begins. The MS Crown Princess is a Bermuda flagged vessel. It experienced a hard roll reportedly injuring a number of passengers. The incident occurred about 11 miles southeast of Port Canaveral where the vessel is now docked.

The Investigator-in-Charge is Tom Roth-Roffy. The team arrived on scene early today.

Here's how our source explains what happened.

After clearing Port Canaveral, the captain set the ship's automatic pilot to head to New York. He then left the cruise line's bridge. All standard and appropriate procedure.

As the automatic pilot found its course back to New York, it started making a left turn when the person in charge on the bridge -- a junior officer -- noticed the ship's automatic pilot needle was far to the left.

Our source goes on to tell us that the junior officer "panicked," then took the ship out of automatic pilot thinking the meter was showing that the ship was turning too sharply to one side.

But instead of turning the Crown Princess back to the right, the junior officer accidentally kept the ship in an even sharper left hand turn -- almost like over-correcting in a car.

This caused the massive 113,000-ton cruise ship to list severely, tumbling passengers, pool water and everything else on board into chaos.

In February, a passenger on the Grand Princess had a heart attack and the captain decided to return to Galveston, Texas.

He turned hard at cruising speed. "It was a sharper turn than should have been undertaken," said Princess spokeswoman Julie Benson. Glassware, ornaments and TV sets went airborne, according an account in The Galveston County Daily News.

Twenty-seven passengers and 10 crew members were treated for sprains, cuts and bruises, Benson said. Also, 82 televisions were smashed.

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