Princess Cruises has announced that P&O Cruises Australia captain Tony Draper will be at the helm of its newest vessel Royal Princess when it launches in June 2013.
Having just been in command of P&O Cruises’ Pacific Jewel, Captain Draper will take charge of the cruise line’s Pacific Pearl later this year before moving to Royal Princess.
Captain Draper has previously commanded a number of Princess Cruises’ vessels including Ruby Princess, Crown Princess, Caribbean Princess, Dawn Princess, Sun Princess and Coral Princess. He was also a captain with Cunard.
On Royal Princess, Captain Draper will lead a senior officer team with more than 100 years of seagoing experience among them, including Relief Captain Dino Sagani, Chief Engineer Fabio Braccelli, Hotel General Manager Dirk Brand and Staff Captain Tim Stringer, who has also worked with P&O Cruises in Australia.
Presently under construction in Italy, the 3600-passenger Royal Princess is a new-generation ship that will debut a number of new features for Princess, including a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a 50 per cent larger atrium, a new Princess Live! television studio and balconies on all outside staterooms.
“It takes a talented team to launch a new ship of the calibre of Royal Princess,” said Princess Cruises executive vice president Jan Swartz.
“These experienced officers bring considerable seagoing and management skills that we believe will contribute to the success of the ship’s maiden season.”
Captain Draper began his seagoing career with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service – the UK’s civilian manned supply and logistics division of the Royal Navy. After gaining his Masters Certificate in 1994, he also pursued a lifelong interest in aviation, gaining a UK commercial pilot’s license in the same year.
In 1995, he joined Princess Cruises as navigator of the original Island Princess. It was on this ship, one of the original Love Boats, that he met his wife, Joanna. Originally from Scotland, Captain Draper now lives in Cornwall, UK with his wife and young daughter, Alysia.
Royal Princess debuts on June 16, 2013, and will sail on a maiden season of Mediterranean cruises throughout the northern summer, followed by Caribbean sailings.